RENO — With a cold wind blowing from the west essentially cutting the field in half, Bishop Gorman girls soccer coach Doug Borgel figured one goal might be enough to win Friday’s Class 4A state semifinal game against Galena at North Valleys.
But on a day when the game, and the conditions, conspired to make it almost impossible to manufacture a goal, the Gaels advanced to the state tournament because they had the one player on the field able to just go out and get one.
After missing on two scoring chances just moments before, Gianna Gourley scored in the 67th minute to give Bishop Gorman a 1-0 win over the Grizzlies.
The Gaels advance to Saturday’s state championship game at 10 a.m. at North Valleys. Gorman will face McQueen (16-2-2), which beat Green Valley (17-3-1) in a penalty-kick shootout in the other semifinal game.
“It’s a big step for us, but as we talked after the game, our goal is not to win the semifinal, it’s to win the state final so we’re happy that we’re getting to move on with the win today, but we’re looking for a bigger prize,” Borgel said.
With the wind at their backs in the first half, the Gaels (22-2-2) dominated possession to the extent that Galena didn’t get its first shot on goal until the 36th minute. At the half, the Grizzlies still had no touches inside the penalty box.
But for all the time they spent in front of the Galena goal, the Gaels were unable to find the net, and the game went to halftime scoreless.
“You get to this level, the last four teams are going to be great and it’s going to be tight and goals are going to be at a premium,” Borgel said. “The first half, you get as many chances as we had and you don’t get it, it’s a little deflating and I’m sure it uplifted them a bit.”
Galena (21-2-1) took advantage of the wind to mount several attacks in the second half, but Bishop Gorman goalkeeper Hannah Lee made saves in the 55th and 60th minutes, and Gourley sent a shot wide right in the 63rd minute. Two minutes later, Galena goalkeeper Ava Gotchy was able to get just enough of a piece of a hard ground shot to the front left corner of the net by Gourley to redirect it just wide.
But in the 67th minute, Gourley got the ball again, this time with a little less traffic around her, and this time she was able to get it past Gotchy.
“Once you have so many, one’s bound to fall,” Gourley said. “You don’t make any of the shots you don’t take, so you have to keep shooting and keep working and you’re going to get it.”
Galena pressed forward in desperation mode for most of the last 10 minutes. In the final minute of the game, the Grizzlies’ Isabella Flocchini sent a hard shot toward the upper left corner of the goal, but Lee leaped to deflect the ball just over the crossbar.
“With the wind and all, I didn’t want it to go over me and into the net, so I just had to make sure that wasn’t going in,” Lee said. “Every game puts pressure on you, it’s just how you take it. I just really wanted it for my team.”
“It’s so exciting,” Gourley said. “We’re going to win this year.”
McQueen 0, Green Valley 0 — At North Valleys, Lancers keeper Isabel Warren stopped two of five shots in the penalty-kick shootout after the teams played to a scoreless tie through two overtimes to lift her team over the Gators in the other semifinal.
“We had tons of chances, they had tons of chances, we just couldn’t put one in the back of their net,” Green Valley coach Catherine Davis said. “Hit a post, hit a few keepers, hit a few heads, hit everything but the back of the net.”
Devyn Parsons and Isabel Madrid each scored as the teams were tied 2-2 through the first three rounds of the penalty kick. But with her team leading 3-2, Warren sealed the deal by redirecting a shot from Green Valley’s Taylor O’Neill.
“It really was a battle of the defensive wills,” Davis said. “We definitely came up here focused on the matchup and dialed in, we just couldn’t hit the back of the net when it mattered.”