It’s been another stellar season for Phoenix Brophy Prep’s soccer team as it heads to the state high school soccer playoffs hoping to win a third straight championship.
The Broncos ran off a string of wins, including an impressive victory over No.8 Sandra Day O’Connor by a score of 5-0 but took its first lost Desert Vista on Monday, 5-1.
The Broncos then bounced back to close the season with wins over Pinnacle Tuesday (3-0), and Mountain Pointe Thursday (8-0) to finish 10-1-1 in conference play and 11-1-1 overall. Their draw came in a scoreless game against Chandler on Feb. 1.
They stood ranked third in the Arizona Interscholastic Association 6A rankings ahead of Saturday’s tournament bracket announcement, behind No. 1 San Luis (9-0) and No. 2 Chaparral (9-0-1), the team the Broncos defeated in last year’s 6A championship. Both of those teams are expected to contend for the title as well this year.
The key for the Broncos success has been their defensive play and the way they have been able to control possession. Opponents were held scoreless in eight confernece games this season. Only twice did they allow more than one goal.
“Our ability to possess the ball has been great so far,” said head coach Paul Allen. “The guys are buying into our system of hard work and defending.”
The Broncos might have been going for their fourth straight title, but in 2018, they fell short in the championship game, 3-0 to Desert Vista.
Brophy also won soccer championships in 2011, 2013 and 2014 under former coaches Marc Kelly and Noah Lewkowitz. The last time they were not the No. 1 seed in the playoffs was 2015.
The program’s success was recognized when the Arizona Republic and azcentral.com named it the No. 1 Arizona boys high school soccer dyanasty of all-time last year.
Assistant coach James Cooney has a theory about all of this recent succes:
“When I started playing, it was individual focused, in my opinion, and now what Paul has done is change that narrative and culture,” said Cooney, a who played for the Broncos from 2007- 2009, during a pre-season interview. “It starts the beginning of the year in retreat, we set individual goals but the players will turn that back around and say we just want to win the title which is what Paul has instilled in them.”
Still, some individuals are difference makers, including senior Charlie Cobb, who had 12 goals and 15 assists this season, according to Maxpreps.
“He is extremely important and I feel that he is the best player in the state,” Allen said. “He may not score a ton of goals all the time but he is involved in everything. He comes back to defend in set pieces and plays multiple positions for us. He does everything we ask him to do.”
Allen, though, sees areas where Brophy will have to do better if it expects to three-peat.
“We are leaving a lot of chances on the board and we need to start putting more chances in because sometimes in soccer there are only a few.”