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Phoenix rips Marshfield in playoff opener

TALENT — The Phoenix Pirates got production from their offensive standouts in a Class 4A boys soccer first-round playoff game Tuesday.

Bryson Flenner registered a hat trick and Victor Martinez added one goal and one assist as Phoenix romped to a 6-0 victory against the Marshfield Pirates at Hager-James Park.

Top-ranked and undefeated Phoenix (13-0-1) will host Marist, a 2-0 winner over North Valley, in the quarterfinals on Saturday.

Martinez, a freshman, is the Pirates leading scorer with 16 goals, and Flenner has now accounted for 13.

“We were able to get the ball to those two guys and they worked their magic,” said Phoenix coach Dennis Flenner — Bryson’s grandfather. “They draw attention and that allows our strikers to get free.”

Phoenix scored three goals less than halfway through the first half to give coach Flenner a stress-free afternoon.

This is the third time in four years Phoenix has advanced to the state quarterfinals. Last year, it was knocked out of the first round, 2-1, by Newport, which went on to win its second straight 4A state championship.

Dennis Flenner, in his 24th year as head coach, has guided Phoenix into the state playoffs 10 out of the past 11 years. The veteran coach got Phoenix to two state finals — 1995 and 2011 — but has yet to win the championship.

Against Marshfield, Bryson Flenner opened the scoring at the 31:36 mark of the first half with a mid-air shot from 10 yards to the right-center of the goal mouth that went off the hands of keeper Jose Ramirez. Randy Rodriguez slipped a pass to an uncovered Flenner, who powered in the shot.

“It was a good run by Randy,” said Bryson Flenner. “He took on two midfielders and that allowed me to find space.”

Just two minutes later, Flenner provided a nifty pass with the back of his heel to Martinez, who converted the assist with a low shot in the left corner of the net.

“I saw Vic making a run,” said the senior striker. “The ball popped up and he headed it down and finished.”

Phoenix took a 3-0 advantage at 23:57 on Flenner’s goal from about 12 yards out off an assist from Miguel Conchas. Rodriguez created the opportunity with a strong run into the Marshfield zone that drew the defense out of position.

Then Conchas found himself all alone in the center of the field from about 30 yards away and hit a high-arching shot that went over Ramirez’s head into the top center of the net. This gave Phoenix a 4-0 lead with less than 10 minutes remaining in the opening period.

Flenner notched his hat trick with a little more than 15 minutes left in the game off a Martinez assist.

“It was an amazing pass from Victor,” said Flenner. “I was glad he laid it off below two defenders.”

Coach Flenner marvels at the talent from the freshman Martinez: “He freaked out their defense. Victor brings a lot of grief to an opponent.”

Junior Jonathan Leal, a backup midfielder, accounted or the final goal with 1:51 remaining.

Marshfield lost to Phoenix 2-0 earlier in the season and coach Drew Jones was impressed with the Phoenix performance in the playoffs.

“Early on we were doing a good job getting in the passing lanes,” said Jones, “but Phoenix adjusted. They have a lot of energy and we didn’t handle it very well. They’ve earned that No. 1 ranking.”

Rodriguez, a junior midfielder, helped Skyline Conference champion Phoenix control possession and didn’t allow Marshfield (7-8) to mount much of an attack.

“I get our team organized,” said Rodriguez, who leads the team with 10 assists. “When I get the ball I try to distribute it to my forwards and let them finish. I’m looking for the best options.”

Rodriguez is the catalyst that allows the Phoenix offense to be so effective.

“He’s our best overall athlete,” said Dennis Flenner. “He’s fast, headstrong and smart. He sets the game up and develops a lot of our offense.”

The Phoenix defense effectively shut down the Marshfield attack. The back line of Joseph Navas, Dan Martinez, Johnny Esquivel and Cornelio Carera-Flores squashed any potential scoring threat.

The Phoenix defense has been strong all season — recording nine shutouts in 14 games and allowing no team to score more than a single goal.

“If you can play defense, the rest of your game will come around,” said coach Flenner.

That was certainly the case for Phoenix in the playoff opener.

Reach reporter Frank Silow at 541-776-4480 or fsilow@rosebudmedia.com.