SUNRISE GIRLS SOCCER: Foothill holds off Silverado for berth in region final

The Foothill girls soccer team wasn’t exactly pleased with how its season ended last year — the Falcons lost to Silverado in the Sunrise Region tournament.

So on Thursday, they repaid the favor.

Foothill beat Silverado 3-2 at Bettye Wilson Park to advance to the Sunrise Regional final, where it will play Coronado for a chance to represent the region in the state tournament.

“We had a score to settle with (Silverado),” Guzman said. “We came in with the mentality that we’re going to do whatever it takes. Even if that means playing beyond 80 minutes.”

That wasn’t quite necessary.

The Falcons broke a 1-1 halftime tie when Amber Risheg turned a nice feed from Aqua Williams into the go-ahead goal. Foothill senior midfielder Amber Risheg provided an insurance goal in the 71st minute to give the Falcons a 3-1 lead.

“After we put that third goal in, I felt pretty confident, pretty settled, but still on edge,” Guzman said. “You never know with them … and we’re in playoffs. And crazy stuff happens in playoffs.”

The Skyhawks narrowed the deficit in the 78th minute with Victoria Bravo’s second goal of the game.

But Foothill was conservative offensively and packed its defense near the goalie’s box, preventing any equalizing opportunities as seemingly every pass was turned away and sent back in to Silverado’s side of the field.

Fatigue from a second game in as many days caught up with Silverado in the final minutes, and the Skyhawks struggled to move the ball into Foothill territory.

Finally, the buzzer sounded on Silverado’s season.

“We had a tough game last night and a short recovery playing back to back. I think that hurt us,” Skyhawks coach Jenna Carter said. “Honestly we came out a little flat. It took us a little while to get going.”

Carter said she was pleased, though, overall with the way her team performed this season after losing several key seniors and added that the Skyhawks “far exceeded what we anticipated.”

Of course, the Falcons were quite pleased, too, and celebrated their victory for a few minutes before leaving the pitch.

Foothill goalie Natalie Williams said reaching the regional final was one of the Falcons goals before the season.

“I’m pumped,” Williams said. “We’re going to give it 120 percent and do everything we can to pull out the ‘W.’ ”

Coronado 2, Green Valley 0 — The Cougars took down the Gators in the Sunrise Regional semifinal to advance to the regional championship game opposite Foothill, which the Cougars beat and tied in their two match-ups this season.

“That’s our plan every single season,” Coronado coach Dana Neel said about reaching the regional final and state tournament. “When you plan on doing it and take the necessary steps to get there, you end up there. And we’re in the process of doing that.”

Coronado senior Brenna Heenan scored roughly 20 minutes into the first half to give the Cougars (18-2-4) a 1-0 lead and sophomore Evie DiFiore tacked on the second goal about 20 minutes into the second half.

The Cougars’ defense, meanwhile, collapsed on Green Valley’s forwards and kept the ball out of the goalie’s box, ensuring the Gators (14-8-2) never had any legitimate scoring opportunities.

“They definitely play as a unit and they’re an aggressive defense,” Neel said. “More importantly, we played against Green Valley and we learned how they play. A lot of these games are about outsmarting your opponent and bringing the intensity on top of that.”

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