The Sidewinders began with their backs against the wall, as Perry scored first on a furiously fast counter attack just six minutes into the game. Senior forward Hudson Deutsch received a through ball on the break and was undefended on the left wing. Deutsch struck the ball with his right foot, sending it over the outstretched hands of senior San Luis goalie Alejandro Pena.
10 minutes later, San Luis had a pair of chances of their own, the best being a cross played by senior midfielder Luis Paul Meneses which barely missed a San Luis recipient.
The Sidewinders, extremely deadly from set pieces, had another excellent chance with nine minutes remaining following a foul on the edge of the 18yard box. Junior midfielder Misael Meza’s strike was blocked by the Perry wall, neutralizing the chance.
A team which allowed four goals all season, the Sidewinders were in unfamiliar territory once they fell behind in the first half.
“We weren’t used to being behind,” Rojas said. “It’s unfamiliar territory for us and that definitely weighed on our minds.
Those thoughts grew larger in the minds of the Sidewinders just two minutes into the second half, as Perry junior forward Tyler Haren found the back of the
net with a header off a corner kick.
Over the next 38 minutes, the Sidewinders clawed and scratched on offense desperate to find the back of the net.
Senior forwards Francisco Pina and Luis Mario Medina, as well as senior defenders Israel Uribe and Oscar Mejia all had bonafide scoring opportunities inside and around the 18yard box. Each time, junior Perry goalie Carson Pridie kept the ball out of the net with spectacular saves.
“When you have what feels like 30 shots and you can’t score, it starts to drain your confidence,” Rojas said. “We did everything we could, fighting to the last minute, their defense just kept us out.”
Nevertheless, Uribe and senior defender Erick Quirarte did an exceptional job on the back end, allowing San Luis to have a chance to compete for a comeback, preventing several Perry breakaways from turning into goals, growing the deficit.
Quirarte had his own scoring chance with 20 minutes to play in the second half, heading a corner chance to the back post. A Perry defender made a miraculous stop at the goal line, holding the Sidewinders scoreless.
Ultimately, the Sidewinders did everything they could, but in this case, everything just wasn’t enough.
San Luis has now suffered four straight losses
in the state championship game after losses in 200506, 2014-15 and 2020-21, yet Rojas believes his players should still hold their heads high.
“I’m so proud of the guys for the way they played,” Rojas said. “They left it all on the field and they did everything they could. Tonight was just a night of bad luck, not a night of bad play or effort. They played their hearts out.”
“We proved ourselves again. We showed we could stay undefeated in the season for the third straight year, we showed that we could beat big schools like Brophy and compete with the best the state has to offer. The guys should be proud of what they accomplished, it’s just not what
we wanted unfortunately.”
Perhaps the greatest and most memorable thing about this San Luis team isn’t the high-powered offense that scored 73 goals, nor the defense that allowed just six. It was the leadership from the likes of Quirarte, Uribe, Mejia and the incredible group of seniors that took the field for San Luis this season.
“This team showed me how much leadership we can have both on and off the field and what a difference that makes,” Rojas said. “The motivation, leading by example, everything the guys did to make a difference made the success this season possible, especially our defense.”