Western girls soccer coach Shoichi Sato stressed to his team at halftime Wednesday, during the opening round Class 3A Southern Region tournament, the importance of communication.
What the third-seeded Warriors could’ve used in their rematch from last year’s region title match against Tech was a jolt of physicality.
The second-seeded Roadrunners got revenge from last year’s 2-1 championship loss by out-muscling and bullying their way to a 1-0 win at Bettye Wilson Park.
Tech (12-4-3) advanced to Friday’s semifinal round, where it will meet Pahrump Valley (15-2-3).
We haven’t been an extremely high-scoring team this year,” Tech coach Josh Jones said. “Defensively we kind of have to be compact and make sure we’re playing a physical style of play.”
Jones said based on the regular season meeting that ended in a 0-0 tie, he knew it was going to be a low-scoring game and it was important to set the tone early with an intimidating presence on both ends of the field.
Keeping the pressure on Western’s defense, the Roadrunners struck 25 minutes into the first half when Western goalie Nicole Declaro mishandled Emily Sepulveda’s cross-shot, and Micayla Razo was there to punch it in.
“We’re a pretty young team, the core is young,” Sato said. “We get hit in the mouth, and I feel like sometimes we don’t know how to react to that. We’re never the ones imposing the will. We react to the hit, we’re never the ones hitting first. That comes with youth. Coming out of this game, that’s something we can definitely build on next year.”
Tech keeper Chloe Dody had just two saves, as her defenders did an excellent job of shutting down Western’s offensive threats for most of the game.
“We knew if we could keep up the intensity defensively, and be able to control possession, which I thought we did better in the first half, I think we executed the gameplay the way we wanted to,” Jones said.
The Warriors didn’t get their first shot on goal until the 64th minute of the game, as Dody stopped Samantha Navarro’s blast from 25 yards. Western had another opportunity nine minutes later, but after Western’s Devany Marroquin took a pass in wide open space, Tech’s defense, led by captain Maria Galindo, responded to thwart the Warriors’ attack.
“I’ve been playing for four years, so I kind of know how to control the defense, I know where players should be,” Galindo said. “What I think is important about defense is having each other’s back. We work in practice every day to have a lot of communication … that makes a big difference in the game.”
Tech defender Jessica Resendiz came up with two huge stops with a minute remaining, as she blocked Geraldi Gomez’s shot, then stole the ball from Caro Acosta when she snared the rebound.
“That was really important, and without us controlling the tempo or talking, it would have been a mess,” Resendiz said.
Declaro stopped five shots for the Warriors, who ended their season 7-6-3.
Moapa Valley 4, Cheyenne 3 — At Bettye Wilson Park, the Pirates got two goals from Christie Eriksen, while goalkeeper Jessica Leon had six saves to preserve a win over the Desert Shields.
Alexis Schraft added a goal and an assist for Moapa Valley (12-6-2), and Bailey Bunker also scored.
Yadira Erives scored two goals, while Maria Borrero had one goal for Cheyenne (7-10-1).
Moapa Valley faces Sunrise Mountain (10-2-3) in the other semifinal on Friday
Sunrise Mountain 2, Somerset-Sky Pointe 0 — At Bettye Wilson Park, Alexandra Trinidad scored both goals for the Miners, one on a penalty kick and the other on an assist from Brisa Caamano, in their victory over the Eagles.
Goalkeepers Christina Lark and Macy Stevens each played a half for Sunrise Mountain.
Shayna Thompson was in net for the Eagles, who completed their inaugural season in Class 3A with a 9-8 mark.
Pahrump Valley 3, Virgin Valley 0 — At Bettye Wilson Park, Sydney Dennis had two goals, and Kaitlyn Carrington added a goal to lead the Trojans over the Bulldogs.
Netminder Alyvia Briscoe had 12 saves in the shutout win.
Virgin Valley finished its season 11-7-4.