Centennial hands Palo Verde first league loss in girls soccer

Since returning from the Christmas break, Centennial’s girls soccer team never had trailed while outscoring opponents 22-1.

But even when the Bulldogs fall behind, coach Jeremy Gill is confident they can pick themselves back up.

Sienna Drizin scored an early second-half goal, and the Bulldogs overcame a 1-0 deficit to keep alive their undefeated season with a 3-1 home victory over Palo Verde on Wednesday.

“At halftime, we were like, ‘Let’s keep putting the pressure on them.’ And honestly, it needed to come from Sienna,” Gill said. “Outside, there are very few players who can hang with her.

“She’s been torching everybody. Almost every player pointed to her. And sure enough, she just blew by and put that goal in.”

Palo Verde’s Sila Tuiofea scored on a 25-yard free kick in the opening minutes that fell off of Centennial goalkeeper Natalie Gilbertson’s fingertips to put the Panthers (11-2-1, 5-1 Northwest League) ahead.

But the Bulldogs (10-0, 6-0) tied the score at 1 at the break. Paris Gonzales dished a pass from the edge of the penalty box to freshman Danielle Farano, who redirected the ball home with her left foot in the 32nd minute.

Then, with the ball on the ground for barely six minutes of the second half, Drizin blitzed untouched down the middle of the field and fired home a shot that sailed inches under the crossbar.

“I just got a burst of energy, and I knew: I’ve got this,” Drizin said. “I had to do it, had to put them away. I won state as a freshman, and I think we have it this year.

“We’re amazing, and I love these girls.”

Drizin’s goal breathed new life into the Bulldogs, who added a 40-yard chip from Kelsey Thein two minutes later that remarkably fell into the back of the net.

“That (goal by Drizin), I felt, really energized us,” said Gill, who admitted to “planning this game” for the past week. “I ain’t going to lie: I could feel a big sigh of relief after that.

“It seemed like everybody was hyped up, the crowd was going, and everything was good.”

Palo Verde peppered Centennial’s goal with eight second-half shots, including three on frame, but Gilbertson finished the game with five saves to keep the Panthers scoreless in the second half.

Centennial also fired six shots in the second half, but only the two goals fell on target.

The Panthers’ best chance came on a 30-yard free kick by Lauren Kaskie that sailed right of the goal in the 58th minute. Tuiofea also had a header from inside the box that skimmed over the crossbar with less than 15 minutes to play. The win put Centennial alone atop the Northwest, while Palo Verde dropped into second with defending Southern Nevada champion Arbor View, after the Aggies’ 5-1 win over Cimarron-Memorial.

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