Marcos de Niza defeats Brophy in replay of 1990 soccer state title game

by Jose E. Garcia – May. 9, 2010 12:13 AM
The Arizona Republic

On Saturday the 1990 edition of the boys soccer teams of Tempe Marcos de Niza High and Phoenix Brophy replayed their 1990 state title game that ended in a controversial 0-0 tie. The teams wanted to settle the score once and for all.

It took 20 years, but Marcos de Niza’s players can finally say they are the champions after beating Brophy 2-0 Saturday night. Fans packed Brophy’s new sports complex to watch the game.

After the game, the public address announcer said “The Arizona Interscholastic Association’s state champion Marcos de Niza Padres.” It’s doubtful that the AIA will recognize Saturday’s game as the official championship game between the teams.

But at least for one day Marcos de Niza was glad to say it won and will likely brag about it for the next 20 years or so. Before the game started there was a moment of silence for the teams’ former coaches, Jack Smythe of Marcos de Niza and Brophy’s Paul Micheletti.

Smythe died of cancer, and Micheletti died in a car accident.

“I was honored to hold his (Smythe) position tonight,” said Jim Vanney, Marcos de Niza’s coach on Saturday.

Former Brophy assistant under Micheletti, John Kelly, was Brophy’s coach on Saturday.

Vanney was an assistant on the 1990 team.

Vanney’s brother, Greg, turned out to be the star of Saturday’s game, but that didn’t really surprise many. Greg retired about 18 months ago as well-known professional.

Greg, a defender throughout his pro career, scored the first goal with 18:42 remaining in the second half and assisted on the second goal, a header by Kenny Wright.

“He (Greg) put it (free kick pass) on a platter,” Wright said.

For Marcos de Niza’s Steve Service, the game meant he can close a chapter of his life that kept chasing him.

Service has always said he scored a goal on a header during the 1990 game, but the goal was disallowed by a linesman.

“Tonight (Saturday) was totally about confirmation that we won in 1990,” Service said.

Marcos de Niza goalkeeper Scott Hileman and Brophy’s goalkeeper Robert Kaczmaryczyk made a handful of excellent saves.

The Brophy-Marcos de Niza rivalry was intense, and 20 years didn’t erase some of the bad blood. A couple of players came close to fighting on two occasions, but after the game all of the players shook hands and hugged each other.

“Once a competitive athlete,” Greg said, “always a competitive athlete. Nobody wanted to lose. That’s sports. You want to beat each other up, and in the end you hug.”

After the game, the players took pictures and chatted with friends and families.

There were one or two beer bellies (OK, three) and a few receding hairlines on the field during the game, but the players already etched their place in Arizona soccer history. That 1990 Marcos de Niza-Brophy rivalry produced 10 college players and six professionals.

To this day no other Arizona high school soccer rivalry can say it has produced that much talent. Former Brophy defender Briand Wendel deserves the credit for reuniting the two squads.

Wendel has attempted to organize this game since March 2009, and Gatorade finally granted Wendel’s wish to sponsor the game. This is just the third replay game Gatorade has sponsored.

Gatorade has received about 3,000 requests to replay games.

“Perseverance and determination won out in making this game possible,” Wendel said. “I’m sure we won’t go another 20 years without being in touch with each other.”


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