BULLHEAD CITY — Logan Burgess scored two goals and assisted on two others and the Mohave High School T-birds secured a soccer playoff spot with a 6-4 victory over the Prescott Badgers on Friday at Anderson Auto Group Fieldhouse.
“This was a lot of fun,” said Mohave coach Matt Camacho. “A whole lot of fun. This was an awesome win for the boys.”
The T-birds, who won for the fourth time in their last five matches, put themselves in playoff contention in the final third of the regular season. They now have an 8-6-1 overall record and are 4-1-1 in 4A Grand Canyon Section play. At one point in the season, the T-birds were struggling with a 4-5-1 record.
“It feels like it’s building, building, building,” Camacho said of the late-season turnaround. “And I don’t think they’ve peaked yet.”
The T-birds entered the match in a precarious position, ranked 24th among the 48 4A teams in Arizona. The top 24 make the playoffs — teams in the Nos. 1-8 spots get first-round byes while Nos. 9-24 are paired in play-in games Feb. 13. The win against Prescott, which entered with the No. 17 ranking, means that Mohave may move up a few spots — and certainly shouldn’t fall any — for the final regular-season 4A rankings.
“We’re in,” Camacho said confidently. “We’ll be in a play-in game. We’ll be on the road. But we’re in.”
It wasn’t easy in what essentially was a must-win game for the T-birds. Goals by Axel Sandoval and Burgess gave the T-birds a 2-1 lead midway through the first half but goals by Aldo Munoz and Cade Tutrone put the Badgers on top by halftime.
Paul Bustamente tied it 61⁄2 minutes into the second half but Munoz tapped in a rebound for the Badgers 10 minutes later. The T-birds tied it again when Roberto Perez’s shot from a crowd in front of the net was ruled to have crossed the goal line before keeper Logan Ballard could deflect it away.
Burgess snapped the tie with 11:02 left on a penalty kick, awarded the shot after a collision with Ballard to the left of the goal. Burgess was ruled to have position and possession before he was knocked to the ground by the Badger goalie. Burgess responded by beating Ballard to the lower left, giving the T-birds the lead for good.
Hayden Allen added an insurance goal about two minutes later off a perfect pass from Burgess, who sent the ball high into the air down the middle. Burgess was able to collect it in front of the goal and sent the finisher into the net.
The Badgers had a couple of scoring chances late, but keeper Yahir Acero, with help from his teammates, made the lead stand up. Bustamante came up big, using a knee to flick away a shot after the Badgers got a corner kick that send Acero scrambling. Bustamante had his back — or, more accurately, his right side — keeping the ball out of the net from just inside the right post.
“This team... I’m so proud to be their coach,” Camacho said. “They’ve shown a lot of character over the last part of the season. They’ve improved. And like I said, I don’t think they’ve peaked yet.”