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I-A GIRLS SOCCER: Late goals propel Sierra Vista past Spring Valley

It was a tale of two halves Thursday for Sierra Vista’s girls soccer team.

The Mountain Lions, who struggled offensively in the opening half, rallied to score two goals in a two-minute span with seven minutes to play to make their first region final in school history.

Sophia Omidiji, Southern Nevada’s fourth-leading scorer, hit the equalizer in the 73rd minute, and Jasmine Morice scored the go-ahead goal in the 75th minute to lead the Mountain Lions to a 2-1 victory over the Grizzlies in a Division I-A Southern region semifinal at Heritage Park.

Sierra Vista (10-4-2) will face Sunset League champion Faith Lutheran (17-6-3) in the region final at noon Saturday at Heritage Park.

“We were outplayed in the first half,” Sierra Vista coach Ross Muir said. “They were the better team. Second half, we outplayed them the entire second half. You felt the momentum changing, and we were fortunate enough to get one right after the other. Once that first (goal) went through, we had a good feeling about it.”

The Grizzlies (9-6-2), who were coming off an upset of Sunrise League champion Tech on Tuesday, showed some rollover momentum by getting on the scoreboard first in the 24th minute. Jozee DeCunzo sent a pass 35 yards from just outside the center circle to Sahana Bojorquez, who kicked it to the back of the net to make it 1-0.

But the Mountain Lions came out firing in the second half, nearly scoring on back-to-back headers and a free kick all within the first five minutes.

Sierra Vista never took its foot off the gas, constantly pressuring the Grizzlies’ defense and rarely allowing the ball to get past midfield.

“You can knock on the door as long as you want, but it just takes time sometimes to get it in the back of the net,” Muir said. We just have some really quality midfielders and strikers that just don’t give up. They know how to finish.”

Omidiji finally broke through on a pass from Morgan O’Neal in the 73rd minute to tie it at 1-1.

“It had to be her,” Muir said. “She’s come through for us all year. It’s not a surprise to anyone that she was the one to break the shutout and get the equalizer. She was taking people on and challenging them all game. She finally got a sneak through.”

Two minutes later, Calista Reyes sent the ball into a pack of Mountain Lions in the box, and Morice touched it in for the game-winner and the final score.

“At halftime I told them, ‘You guys have seen this team. You know you can score on them. If anyone here thinks we can’t score, you have no business being on the field,’ Muir said. “Undeniably everyone thought we could score and they came out and proved they could in the second half. The whole second half, you could tell (Spring Valley) was playing a little bit more defensive.”

Faith Lutheran 2, Clark 1 — Brenna Rohnkohl had two goals, including the game-winner 11 minutes into overtime, to lead the Crusaders by the Chargers in the other semifinal.

Rohnkohl took a pass from Cameron Bracey and dribbled it 35 yards down the right sideline before firing a shot that hit the lower left corner for the win.

“I just remember seeing the ball come over the top and I thought, ‘OK, you have to get there,’ Rohnkohl said. “And I just kind of did it. I didn’t really think about it. But I couldn’t have done it without everyone working just as hard.”

Rohnkohl scored in the 65th minute after receiving a ball from Emily Neighbors and fighting through two defenders to put Faith Lutheran up 1-0.

“Brenna is definitely one of our leading players this year as a junior,” Crusaders coach Steve Morrill said. “She’s really stepped up and played a role that she doesn’t necessarily play this season. She’s kind of a jack-of-all-trades.”

Clark’s Darian Gambetta scored the equalizer with just two minutes left in regulation off a pass from Ariana Reyes. Eyker Milan made three saves for the Chargers (11-7-2).

“They’re a scrappy team,” Morrill said. “They’re hard workers. All three games we’ve played against them have been close. I came in expecting them to play the same way.”

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