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SPECIAL REPORT: San Luis: Chasing the dream

The San Luis boys soccer team embarked on a quest at the state's highest level to bring a title to the Desert Southwest - CBS 13's Scott Gross Reports

YUMA, Ariz. ( KYMA, KECY-TV) - The 2021 San Luis boys soccer team knew they had the makings to make a strong run at a state title, what they didn't know is if the COVID-19 pandemic would allow them the opportunity.

"In the morning { before the season } it was announced that it was cancelled," Head coach Jesus Rojas said. "In the afternoon we met and said lets talk about it, return the uniforms, its too bad but we need to respect the rules."

San Luis was loaded with a baker's dozen worth of seniors on the roster.

"We were all devastated when they said we weren’t going to have a season," Senior goalkeeper Martin Sanchez said. "We all came to the field and had a little scrimmage for like senior night."

A few days later, the Arizona Interscholastic Association changed their vote to allow the winter sports season to continue.

"It was by like literally one vote," San Luis Athletic Director David Barrios said. "I mean it was that close."

The Sidewinders were ready, and on a mission. San Luis would finish the regular season undefeated at 9-0. They also were also awarded the #1 overall seed in the 6-A playoffs for the first time ever.

"They played every game like it was their last game and it was true because you never knew when the season was going to be cancelled again," Rojas said.  

The Sidewinders ran into a buzzsaw in Desert Vista in the state quarterfinals. After leading 2-0 at the half, the Thunder rattled off three straight goals. The go-ahead goal coming with just over three minutes remaining in regulation.

"That was the worst half of the season," Rojas said.

Senior Angel Martinez would tie the game with :48 remaining in the game.

"Getting that goal was just an amazing feeling, like all the hard work was paying off in that moment," Martinez said. "Down 3-2 and being able to get that goal, it’s just an mazing feeling, I don’t think I’ll ever score a goal as meaningful."

The Sidewinders would win by way of a penalty kick shootout 7-6 with senior goalie Martin Sanchez scoring the winning goal.

"I just found of seconds before hand, I had no idea," Sanchez said. "But I always ask to do it in practice and coach gave me a chancE."

"He's done it before," Rojas said. "When he was a sophomore we had a similar situation where he made the goal and then blocked the kick to win the game."

San Luis would hang on in the state semi-finals and defeat Tuscon 3-2. It set up the match the Sidewinders eyed all season long. A shot at the state title versus the two time defending champs, Brophy Prep.

 "In the beginning I knew there was something different," Rojas said. "You just felt it."

"We gave it everything we had," Sanchez said. "It all came down to a couple missed opportunities."

San Luis would fall to Brophy Prep in a penalty kick shootout 3-2.

"We made history," Sanchez said. "We went undefeated, we lost in penalties, we never lost in a game game."

"San Luis will always be respected," Senior striker Ricardo Famania said. "A lot of good teams, a really good school, and to be honest, I believe the school deserves a title."

 "I’m extremely proud," Rojas said. "I can’t even describe it, he had two finals already but this was the biggest one, we knew we had what it took to win it, it’s just, we were really close."

Jesus Rojas was named 6A conference coach of the year. Five players were named to the all conference first team, Ricardo Famania, Erick Mejia, Erick Quirarte, Emmanuel Apodaca and Roberto Uribe.  

High School Sports / Local Sports / Regional Sports / Special Reports / Sports

Scott Gross

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