Try as they might, it was hard for Bishop Gorman’s girls soccer players to tune out the raucous Palo Verde fans at Friday’s Sunset Region semifinal match.
That is until Jacqueline Hillegas took away their reason to cheer.
The Bishop Gorman freshman, after a strong first half offensively but no goals to show for it, drilled the golden goal in the seventh minute of overtime to send the Gaels to their first region title game since 2013 after a 2-1 win against Palo Verde at Bettye Wilson Park.
“They try to put you down the whole time,” Hillegas said of the opposing student section. “It’s a big shut up to them.”
The Gaels advance to play at noon Saturday at Bettye Wilson Park against five-time defending state champion Arbor View (15-4), which won its semifinal match, 8-0 against Centennial.
Hillegas nearly scored for Gorman (20-2-2) on a free kick in the first half, then had what would have been a pretty assist if not for a great save by Palo Verde.
Eventually though it was another freshman, Samantha Nieves, who netted the game’s first tally in the 37th minute.
“These young kids are so good and so balanced and they can beat you in so many ways,” Gorman coach Doug Borgel said. “Those two, I’m going to ride their luck right now.”
Once the second half started, the tide shifted the Panthers’ way. Palo Verde star forward Olivia Packer scored her 30th goal of the season, and Palo Verde out-shot the Gaels 9-2 in the second half, including a 5-0 edge in shots on net.
With the wind pushing hard toward the north goal, it was no surprise both goals scored in regulation were on that side of the field. Gorman players were elated when they drew the north goal to attack in extra time, and after two shots on net that were saved, Hillegas collected a loose ball after a corner kick and ended any hope of a repeat region title for Palo Verde (14-4).
“She can finish, she’s been a star for us all season and we rely on her,” Borgel said. “A lot of times when you rely on a freshman, it would mean you’re not a very deep team, but this kid is such a special player and has a nose for the goal.”
Arbor View 8, Centennial 0 — At Bettye Wilson Park, Allyssa Larkin had a goal and three assists to lead an Aggies’ rout of the Bulldogs in the other Sunset Region semifinal.
Keily Larosee had two goals for the Aggies, and Sierra Vicente, Hannah Ferrara, Sierrah Esson and Deja Erickson all scored.
Haylee Niemann had a goal and an assist for Arbor View, and Krystin Cooper made four saves in the shutout.
The Bulldogs finished the year 10-8-1.
Alysa Caso scored one of her two goals in overtime to power Coronado to a 5-4 win over Foothill in a Sunrise Region semifinal match at Bettye Wilson Park.
Makenna Curcuru, Simone Hottentot and Kaitlyn Kowalchuk also scored goals for Coronado (22-1-3). The Cougars will play Green Valley (16-3) at noon Saturday at Bettye Wilson Park for the region championship.
Foothill (11-4-1) saw two goals from Amber Vokoun, and one each from Sydney Babakitis and Arianna Vigil.
Green Valley 2, Liberty 0 — At Bettye Wilson Park, Celeste Millan and Isabel Madrid scored first-half goals to help the Gators defeat the Patriots in the other Sunrise Region semifinal.
Green Valley goalkeeper Ryan Sabol recorded the shutout.
Liberty ended its year 10-6-2.
Class 3A Southern Region
Three minutes into overtime on Friday, Pahrump Valley’s Sydney Dennis was fouled so hard by Tech’s Rylie Hanes, she came out of one her cleats. And Dennis couldn’t have been happier.
“It gave me a second to compose myself and focus,” said Dennis, who took her time putting on and tying her shoe. “We’ve obviously practiced it a thousand times, and every soccer player should be able to easily make a goal like that. But sometimes mistakes happen.”
Fortunately for Dennis, there was no mistake. She drilled her penalty kick past Tech goalie Chloe Dody to give the Trojans a 1-0 win in the Class 3A Southern Region semifinals at Bettye Wilson Park.
The Trojans (16-2-3) qualify for the state tournament, and will play Sunrise Mountain (10-2-4) in the region title game at noon Saturday at Bettye Wilson Park.
It seemed fitting the tightly contested battle came down to a penalty kick in overtime, as both teams excelled on defense.
“We came into the game knowing it was going to be tough,” Dennis said. “We’ve heard plenty about Tech, they’re aggressive, they’re going to be physical, so we came in prepared. It was a good game, they’re a very good team.”
Alyvia Briscoe had four saves for Pahrump Valley, and Dody finished with four saves for the Roadrunners (12-5-3).
Sunrise Mountain 1, Moapa Valley 1 — At Bettye Wilson Park, the Miners outscored the Pirates 3-2 in penalty kicks, while goalie Christina Lark preserved the win to send the Miners to the Class 3A Southern Region title game.
Briana Torres-Chaves scored in the second half for the Miners, who qualified for state.
Lainey Cornwall scored for the Pirates (12-6-3).
Class 3A Southern Region