Girls soccer: Catalina back in playoff pictureby Andy Morales on Jan. 15, 2013, under Sports
Catalina senior Madison Irwin has her team ready for their first post season appearance since 2011 when the Trojans suffered a 5-0 loss to 2 seed Flagstaff in the old 4A-II Division. In fact, in her four years at Catalina, the standout has only played in that one playoff game.
Even with the move to the new Division III last year, Catalina found it difficult to get in and finished 22nd in power points. Likewise, St. Gregory has been absent from post season play since 2010 when they played in the old 1A/3A Division.
The elimination of the small-school division in the winter season has not been too kind to schools such as St. Gregory. Even if the Hawks had upset Catalina on Tuesday night, they practically had no chance of making it to post season play.
Still, St. Gregory had things all tied up 1-1 against Catalina for 52 minutes before the Trojans went on to score four more for the win.
Irwin had taken numerous early shots against St. Gregory goalie Molly Giles but she was not finding any room to score but senior Chloe Cox found Edina Kulaglic in the 7th minute on a shot from the left side that just got past Giles.
St. Gregory standout Rachel Lifton evened things up on a penalty kick in the 24th minute and the score remained tied until Irwin assisted Cox in the 53rd minute for the go-ahead score.
According to Catalina coach John Faruolo, Cox and Irwin have combined for over 20 goals this year with Cox usually being the one assisting Irwin and that’s what happened five minutes later to put Catalina up 3-1.
Irwin went on to assist Cox again in the 67th and then Irwin assisted sophomore Stephanie Tineo in the 71st before she pulled herself out of the game due to a cold.
In all, Catalina took 18 shots and Giles saved 12 of them. Giles was able to keep her team in it for a long period of time but the shots kept coming. St. Gregory took 9 shots with goalie Judith Gramajo picking up 8 saves.
Gramajo pulled double-duty for her school because she was scheduled to play in a girls basketball game later that evening against Sahuaro.
St. Gregory has three matches left in their season and Catalina has four, including a pair against Palo Verde.
Cox and teammate Nykole Adun will be playing volleyball at Pima next year and, although Irwin earned Co-Player of the Year honors in volleyball for Southern Arizona this past fall, she will be heading to New Mexico to play soccer. In fact, Irwin is one of the 17 athletes from the Tucson Soccer Academy ’95 Girls Red team to sign on to play at the next level.
“We are finally playing really well as a team,” said Irwin. “I think this is the first time I can say I am really having fun. I am enjoying it more.” Irwin decided long ago to attend her home school rather than play at a traditional powerhouse but she wanted to follow in the footsteps of her sister Kelsee Rupp who was an all-star volleyball player at Catalina and went on to play at Pima.
St. Gregory coach Jeff Clashman coaches the St. Gregory boys in the fall where D-IV is now played.