For the third consecutive season, the Sedona Red Rock High School boys soccer team has qualified for the Arizona Interscholastic Association State Championship.
The Scorpions [9-3, 2-1 3A Region 1] enter the tournament as the No. 8 seed, and will take on No. 9 seed Yuma Catholic High School. Kick off is scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3 at Red Mountain Park in Mesa.
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As the two closest-seeded teams, it is theoretically the most competitive of all of the first round games.
“It’s definitely going to be a tough game,” Scorpions co-coach Johan Lagercrantz said. “I think it’s going to be a really tight game ... we definitely have to play our best to be able to win.”
The Shamrocks enter the tournament with a 13-2-1 overall record and 6-0 in Region 8. The teams share two common opponents: Tonopah Valley High School and Bourgade Catholic High School.
Red Rock beat Tonopah Valley 7-1 on Jan. 10 while Yuma Catholic defeated it 19-1 on Dec. 8. Against Bourgade Catholic, the Scorpions lost 1-0 on Dec. 9 while the Shamrocks won 9-0 on Jan. 12.
“We always score two, three, four goals no matter what; we have strong forwards,” Lagercrantz said. “It’s a matter of keeping our defense together, not giving up goals on set pieces or making mistakes.”
Yuma Catholic has scored 112 goals in favor and 12 against while Red Rock has 42 in favor and 15 against.
After heavy snow and rain during the week of Jan. 23 to Friday, Jan. 27, the team had three of its four scheduled games cancelled. The Scorpions only played on Jan. 27 at Region 1 foe Page High School, coming away 4-3 winners.
But rather than lamenting the team’s lack of game time heading into playoffs, Lagercrantz appreciated the time off for the players to recover from little injuries and sickness.
The team has practiced every day during the week to prepare for the Shamrocks.
The previous two years the Scorpions made first round exits.
Last season, as the No. 12 seed, it was thrashed 19-0 by No. 5 Buckeye Union High School. In 2015, 14th-seeded Red Rock lost to Verde Valley rival and fifth-seeded Mingus Union High School by a 2-0 scoreline.
After the AIA realigned its divisions for this year, with new names across all sports, the team competes in Division 3A. Previously they played in Division III.