Western’s girls soccer team made history on Thursday afternoon.
The Warriors are the first team in school history to qualify for a state tournament.
Western seniors Ellyson Reynada and Adelina Jasso scored in the second half to lead the Warriors to a 2-1 victory over Virgin Valley in a 3A Southern Region semifinals at Bettye Wilson Park on Thursday.
The win gives the Western an automatic berth in the state tournament. The Warriors (15-5-2) face Tech at noon Saturday for the Southern Region championship.
“First time we’ve ever made it to state so it’s just been an amazing year to be a part of, and I’ve got to give credit to the girls because they’ve been working so hard this year,” Western coach Shoichi Sato said. “They deserve it … I’m speechless, I’m so proud.”
The weight of the moment weighed on Reynada, who broke down in tears during and after the game.
“I could not have done it without this team,” she said. “We were down the first half, but we didn’t give up. It just shows you that we can’t give up no matter how many people doubt you.”
The first half belonged to the Bulldogs, who were looking to avenge a 4-0 loss to the Warriors early in the season.
Virgin Valley (12-7-3) pressured Western and eventually took a 1-0 lead when Kallie Graves converted a free kick at the 13-minute mark. The goal was the first allowed by Western goalkeeper Alejandra Alvarez-Torres in three games.
Sato said he tried to calm his team down at halftime.
“I was like … ‘We’re going to get our goals,’” he said, “Just play calm and play the way we’ve played all year and we’ll come out with the win.”
He was right.
The Warriors shut down the Bulldogs offense attack and pressured their defense.
Reynada beat her defender on a breakaway and scored to tie the game in the 57th minute. She had a chance to give her team a lead in the 72nd minute, but her shot on an empty net hit the crossbar.
“To be honest I freaked out,” Reynada said about her goal. “I knew there was a player right behind me, and I had to calm down and just look up and see that the right side was open.”
That missed opportunity didn’t hurt the Warriors, though, as Jasso lofted a shot over Virgin Valley’s goalkeeper from about 35 yards out to give the Warriors a 2-1 lead with three minutes remaining.
“It was just a matter of trusting Ellyson, Adelina and Katherine (Realegeno) at the end of the day,” Sato said. “Ellyson’s such a special player for us, so we go wherever she is going to take us. She’s the engine for us to play our game. For the past three games she’s been in unbelievable form, so I just told them to follow her. She’ll lead you to the promise land.”
Tech 3, Cheyenne 1 — Veronica Gonzales scored two goals to lead the Roadrunners past the Desert Shields in a 3A Southern Region semifinal.
The win sends the Roadrunners (14-3-3) into the state tournament for the first time in school history.
“We played one of our best passing games, which is something we’ve been working on all summer, all throughout the year,” Tech coach Josh Jones said. “I think we played one of our best games today. We’re looking forward to our first state appearance. This is the first time the girls have ever done that so we’re history in the making today.”
Alysia Mestas also scored for the Roadrunners. Samantha Elliott, Litzi Olivares-Cortes each had an assist.
Soraya Gonzalez scored on a corner kick for the Desert Shields (12-6-4).