Salpointe and Catalina Foothills play again

Caitlyn Maher jumps into Emma Nance’s arms after the hit. (Andy Morales / AZPreps365)

The fog never really rolled in, it settled on the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains before briefly giving way to the sprinkles before it prevailed again in the form of wind and cold. The majestic atmosphere matched the duel on the pitch below, but the resulting 1-1 draw between the strength programs Salpointe (3-0-1) and Catalina Foothills (3-0-1) left many wanting more and some less.

After 100 minutes of play, nothing was decided other than the observation that at any point in time there were 22 of the best players on the field and some of the best coaches giving them directions, but it was always obvious. Last buzzer came with the reality that three of the best southern Arizona offerings had to be supported off-field. That was something we could have lived without, but it was also expected that players would give it their all, and that’s something we can’t live without either.

The Falcons and Lancers have fought each other twice a year since 2016, with Salpointe winning the top four, but as of 2018 the two teams have had identical 2-2-2 records. The biggest win in the series between the two was the 2-1 win in extra time for the Lancers in the 4A State Championship game 2019. Catalina Foothills No. 5 sent Flagstaff No. 4 in the quarterfinals 4-0 and Thunderbird No. 1 with 4-0 in the semifinals, while Salpointe No. 3 destroyed Arcadia No. 2 with 4-0 in the other semifinals until this championship.

That overtime win was one of four games between the two that needed extra time and Friday night’s game at Catalina Foothills. The Falcons returned to the 4A state final last year, but the team lost to Flagstaff in PKs (4-2). Flagstaff defeated Salpointe in the semi-finals in PKs (3-2). The two teams were denied a state rematch and it turned out to be their last chance for a playoff rematch in at least a few years.

The Falcons were encountered at the 5A conference this season, and the Lancers remain in the 4A game. The Friday night game is the only one of the year between the two, unless the programs need to fill an empty seat to make the seven games required to qualify for the state playoffs. According to this year’s playoff rules, Catalina Foothills must be in the top 16 and Salpointe can either win the 4A Cinema Region or make it into the top 16 to take a state spot.

As of Friday afternoon, Catalina Foothills is in 4th place in the 5A conference and Salpointe is in 5th place in the 4A conference. It will be interesting to see how a draw will hurt or help any team when the new leaderboards are released on Monday.

Caitlyn Maher gave Catalina Foothills a 1-0 lead in an open net in the 6th minute and it looked like the goal would hold the rest of the way as Falcons keeper Flavia Burrell turned the Lancers back on several seemingly safe attempts . A Trinity Morales penalty kicked it off in the 77th and the match lasted two ten-minute periods. The Lancers left the Falcons 4-0 in overtime, but Burrell made two big saves in overtime, including a seconds-ahead shot by freshman Christina Malovich who could have gone into the net against any other goalkeeper. Burrell is standing near 6 feet and she stopped the attempt with her arms outstretched.

Catalina Foothills will host Tucson (2: 2) on Monday, February 15th and Salpointe on Tuesday Sunnyside (1: 1).

Annie Tacey (18) and Trinity Morales (Andy Morales / AZPreps365)

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