Arbor View girls respond to loss, claim berth in state tournament

Arbor View girls soccer coach Jay Howard wasn’t sure how his players would respond to losing for the first time this season in Saturday’s Class 4A region final.

He quickly got his answer Tuesday in his team’s next match.

Melanie Ara, Deja Erickson and Preshus McCraney each scored two goals, and the Aggies scored four first-half goals en route to an 8-1 victory over Foothill in a state play-in match at Faith Lutheran.

Arbor View (18-1-2), which has won the last four state titles, will meet Sunrise champ Coronado (19-2-4) in a state semifinal at 6 p.m. Friday at Bettye Wilson Park.

“I’m really proud of them,” Howard said. “Such a tough game Saturday (in our 3-2 loss to Palo Verde). A lot of adversity there, and we still had two starters down today. So the other kids stepped up. They were really gutsy.”

Sierra Vicente scored off an assist from Allyssa Larkin 30 seconds in the match to set the tone for the Aggies, who stormed to a 4-1 lead at halftime despite having two starters out with injuries.

Foothill’s Hannah Harrison scored on a free kick in the 18th minute to tie it at 1. But McCraney netted a left-footed goal two minutes later, and Erickson and Ara each followed it up with a goal to give the Aggies the momentum.

McCraney, a sophomore, started in place of the injured Jolie Meyers and arguably was the game’s most active player on Tuesday. She had the most shot attempts of any Aggies player and hit the crossbar on one attempt.

“She was awesome,” Howard said. “The thing with Preshus is that she’s such a good athlete — tall, strong, fast. She uses her athletic ability, and she can be a really special player. We’ve noticed, over the course of the year, she’s gotten confidence. It’s been coming. She’s been earning more and more playing time.”

Arbor View finished with 27 shot attempts, including 19 on goal.

“Foothill is a really good team, but I thought our mindset was just so good today,” Howard said. “We attacked and attacked and attacked.”

Samantha Blanchard also scored for Arbor View, and Hannah Ferrara finished with three assists for the Aggies.

Natalie Williams made 10 saves for Foothill (12-4-3).

“It was a great year for us all around,” Foothill coach Cynthia Guzman said. “The chemistry, the girls, the attitude, the camaraderie, the determination — it was such a great group of girls. One I’ve never had. It’s been in the making. Every year we get better and better.”

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