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Class 3A Southern Region: Pahrump Valley edges out Western to win crown

There were no secrets left between the Pahrump Valley and Western girls soccer teams.

The familiarity showed when the Class 3A Sunset League rivals met to determine the Southern Region title Saturday at Bettye Wilson Complex.

In the end, it took a slightly odd bounce off a ball in the Western box to decide a 1-0 victory for Pahrump Valley, the Trojans third victory in four tries over the Warriors.

“It was hard,” Trojans coach Julie Carrington said. “They were tired after Thursday. And Western has always been a good opponent for us.”

Two nights ago, Pahrump (15-4-2) went two overtimes and to a penalty kick shootout before ousting Sunrise Mountain in the region semifinals two nights earlier. That victory exorcised a year-long demon after the Trojans lost to the Miners in the 2017 region title game.

Pahrump didn’t have to wait as long to get rid of its last loss to Western (14-5), which came back on Oct. 15 in league play. The Warriors beat Pahrump, 3-0, on a wind-driven day to hand the Trojans their only league loss and forge a tie for the Sunset title.

Earlier this season, Pahrump beat Western twice: in the Las Vegas Kickoff on August 30 and in the first league meeting on September 20. If both win their state semifinal games next Friday, they could meet for the fifth time on Saturday.

“The end goal is to win on Saturday next week,” Western coach Shoichi Sato said. “Today just came down to heavy legs from Thursday. But at the end of the day, the most important one is the last game of the season.”

Both teams already had punched their ticket to state with their semifinal victories. On Saturday, neither could get much going in the way of offense.

Western tried to use technique and speed. The bigger Trojans turned the game into more of a physical contest.

“We just played into their game,” Sato said. “We got taken out of what we wanted to do. We need to get back to more of a technique game. This was the fourth time we played this season. It’s not like it was a surprise to us.”

Maybe because of that familiarity, neither squad managed much in the way of a scoring threat for most of the game.

As the clock wound inside the final five minutes of regulation though, Pahrump pushed the ball forward. The Trojans got it to the top of the penalty box, with Western defenders closing in.

Makayla Gent came off the right side to control the ball and tried a shot that was blocked in front. But the Warriors couldn’t clear the ball away, and it hit both a Trojan and a Western defender before coming back to the foot of Gent.

The sophomore quickly settled it, took one dribble inside the box, and let go with the shot that proved the game-winner at the 76th minute.

“To be honest, most of it was just a blur,” Gent said of the winning play. “The ball was passed up, I kicked it, and then I prayed. All I can say is that we wanted it.”

The shutout went to keeper Hannah McElheny. But in the end, the day belonged to Gent.

“She was pivotal,” Carrington said. “She was playing a couple of positions. She wants everyone to win, everyone to score. She’s so fast, if you can get her to take the shot instead of passing it.”

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