Foothill girls overcome conditions, top Silverado

Ponytails wagged, debris flew and folding chairs tipped over left and right Thursday afternoon at Foothill High.

The only thing missing from the Southeast League girls soccer match, in fact, was a farmhouse falling on a ruby slipper-wearing witch.

Braving the mighty Southern Nevada winds and a stiff defense from Silverado, the host Falcons finally broke through with two second-half goals before holding on for a 2-0 win in a key league match.

“The wind was a huge factor,” said Foothill coach Cynthia Guzman, whose team is ranked No. 8 in the Southern Nevada Coaches Poll. “It could’ve gone either way, honestly. All it takes is a bad bounce. The wind was just so strong. You can’t even do anything with it.

“Balls were bouncing everywhere. Nobody could really settle. We know how to play in 120-degree heat and humidity, but throw some wind in there and it changes the game.”

Foothill’s Amber Risheg ended a 60-minute scoring draught with a goal midway through the second half. Teammate Hannah Harrison was credited with the assist after launching a high free kick into the box from 30 yards out.

Risheg, on a pair of defenders, settled the ball and fired it past Silverado goalkeeper Mikaila Becze to give the Falcons a 1-0 lead.

“It felt very relieved,” Guzman said. “It just took a goal for everyone to settle in. I felt relieved and ahead of the game at that point.”

Foothill, which controlled possession throughout, failed to convert five corner kicks and plenty of scoring opportunities in the first half, despite getting a boost from the wind blowing to their side of the field.

“The wind was pushing our way, but the girls would dribble and (the ball) would just get away from them,” Guzman said. “And we just couldn’t find the back of the net.”

The Falcons rebounded in the second half and finished with eight shot attempts. Rachel Lentz added an insurance goal off an assist from Hannah Barnett with four minutes remaining to put the game out of reach.

“I’m really happy with everybody,” Guzman said. “Everybody comes in and does their job. Every time you look at our scores, you never know who the goal is going to come from. And that’s what I love. You don’t know who to mark.”

Natalie Williams recorded the shutout with five saves for Foothill (6-1, 2-0 Southeast), which avenged a 2-1 loss to Silverado in the Sunrise Region semifinals last season.

Becze made four saves for the Skyhawks (4-2, 0-2 Southeast).

“We just came out a little flat,” Silverado coach Jenna Carter said. “We had a hard game on Tuesday (against Coronado) and we may have had a little hangover from that. We were playing catch-up the whole first half. …

“They were battling the same weather we were, so we can’t blame it on that. We just didn’t play well today and expectations of what Silverado soccer looks like, that was not what we had on the field today.”

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