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SUNRISE BOYS SOCCER: Cougars use heads, top Foothill

Soccer is often seen as a game of quickness and skill played with the feet.

On Thursday, Coronado’s boys soccer team showed how important it is to play with your head in the air.

The Cougars headed home a pair of goals in the first half on the way to a 4-1 victory over Foothill in the Division I Sunrise Region semifinals at Bettye Wilson Park.

“We work on that all the time,” Coronado coach Dustin Barton said. “Every day we work on set pieces and direct balls.”

Coronado’s first goal came on a free kick when Preston Judd served the ball from 40 yards out and Allesandro Mansutti headed it inside the right post in the 11th minute.

Judd also set up Coronado’s second goal. His free kick from just outside the penalty area went off the post, but the Cougars (10-6-3) maintained possession and got the ball back to Judd. He made a move toward the end line, then crossed the ball to the back post where Nick Fairchild scored on another header to make it 2-0 in the 34th minute.

Judd was taken down in the penalty area two minutes later, and John Lynam made the penalty kick for a 3-0 advantage.

Foothill (10-10-1) was able to cut into the lead just before halftime when Parker Erickson lobbed a shot just out of the reach of goalkeeper Harrison Skinner to make it 3-1 at the break.

Foothill outshot Coronado 8-4 in the first half, yet trailed by two.

“They controlled the possession the whole first half,” Barton said. “We just got some goals on set pieces and direct balls.

“We got those early goals and then we could sit on that. We didn’t play possession as much as we’d like to.”

Skinner finished with eight saves, and also came off his line three times late in the second half to punch away balls on free kicks.

Judd closed out the scoring in the 63rd minute when he took a 30-yard free kick from the left side and lofted it over the goalkeeper and just inside the right post.

The Cougars play Green Valley (24-2-2) in the Sunrise title game at 2 p.m. Saturday at Bettye Wilson.

Green Valley 1, Eldorado 0 — Javier Flores picked a perfect time to score his second goal of the season.

The reserve scored on a header off a corner kick in the 35th minute, and the Gators held on to beat the Sundevils (7-10-1).

“I’m really proud of him,” Green Valley coach Jacob Rivera said. “He’s a senior and he plays a limited role, but he played some good minutes for us. And I’m glad for him that he was able to find some success there.”

Antonio Trama placed the corner kick perfectly for Flores, who headed it home for the game’s only goal.

“It was actually the only corner kick we put in a good position,” Rivera said.

The Gators were able to hold on in the final minutes despite a flurry of chances for Eldorado, including a run on a free kick just before the final whistle.

“Fortunately for us, our boys found a way to fight through some of the adversities and some of the mistakes we made and we were able to pull out another victory,” Rivera said.

Ricardo Nunez and Salvatore Hicks combined on the shutout. Nunez, who normally starts at forward, played the first half in place of Hicks.

“We had a little bit of a team violation that put our starting forward in goal for the first half,” Rivera said. “And our starting goalie played the second half. We told them we won’t sacrifice winning for integrity and discipline. And they got the message and they responded.”

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