The Tucson High School’s men’s soccer team, crowned division two state champions in early March, was presented with the Army National Guard national ranking trophy April 4 at a school assembly. The team also was recognized and awarded individual player certificates at a March TUSD governing board meeting by Superintendent H.T. Sánchez and their coaches.
The MaxPreps Tour of Champions, an online high school sports ranking system, honored the soccer team by bringing the Army National Guard to present them with the trophy. Tucson High School was one of only 10 schools to receive the awarded by the Army National Guard, said Head Coach Ismael Arce. They competed against 14,000 other high schools across the nation. The Tucson High boy’s soccer team finished 34th in the country, according to MaxPreps.
According to coaches and Sánchez, the award proved how hard the team has worked to achieve a good athletic program and team dynamic. They were awarded for their hard work, tremendous athleticism, and good character.
“I’m most proud of my team because they have everything,” Arce said. “They work hard, are disciplined, and have the right attitude. Something I’ve seen in this team that I’ve never seen before is we treat each other like a family, not just a team on the soccer field.”
The soccer team went undefeated this season with 24 wins, zero losses and three ties. In addition, they won the Brandon Bean tournament in November that hosts teams throughout southern Arizona. Furthermore, they won state by only conceding two goals during state playoffs and scoring a total of eleven goals. The team’s top scorer, Julian Gona, finished the season with thirty-three goals as a sophomore.
Arce said that because the team has been top throughout their program’s history, it was only a matter of time until they made it to a state championship. Sánchez pointed out that the team didn’t lose any players to poor grades and did not receive any red cards the entire season, showcasing their good sportsmanship.
“Grades are the most important thing,” Arce said, “and it was great that we maintained high GPA’s.” If players struggled with grades, he pulled them out of practice and would have them attend private study sessions. Sánchez agreed. “This is a team with good grades and good character,” he said at the school board meeting.
Arce said he was impressed with his team and looks forward to upcoming seasons with such a young and strong team composed of many underclassmen. Arce added that their biggest games included beating the previous state champions, Salpointe Catholic High School, twice.
Three of the graduating seniors have already signed up to play soccer in college with scholarships. Tucson High School Principal Clarice Clash applauded her students as they received their awards. “It’s great to see these kids achieving not only athletically but academically as well,” she said.