Coronado and Faith Lutheran’s girls soccer teams had plenty of scoring opportunities in their highly anticipated first meeting since last season’s Class 5A state title game.
Each team’s chances to strike were matched by better defense and top-notch goalie play as the Crusaders, No. 3 in the Review-Journal’s Class 5A rankings, and top-ranked Coronado played to a 0-0 draw Wednesday at Coronado.
“I was pleased to see the progress of my team throughout the game,” Coronado coach Dana Neel said. “It didn’t start exactly where we wanted it, but you could see the momentum was gaining, and by the end, we’re getting chance after chance. It’s just a matter of getting one in the back of the net.”
The two teams put on a trio of 1-0 thrillers last season, with Faith Lutheran winning the state title in overtime at Coronado after the Cougars won the Southern Region title the previous week.
On Wednesday, Coronado (9-1-3, 5-0-2 5A Southern League) had several scoring chances late in stoppage time in the second half. The Cougars couldn’t capitalize on a late free kick, and another shot hit the top of the crossbar.
A header from Coronado’s Cate Gusick just missed the goal, and goalie Demi Gronauer made a save on a shot off a loose ball for Faith Lutheran (7-2-2, 5-1-1).
“Classic end-of-the-game save, and (Gronauer) was solid back there for us,” Faith Lutheran coach McKenzie Karas said.
Coronado goalie Megan Kingman, the 5A Desert League goalie of the year last season, stopped a breakaway from Faith Lutheran’s Julia Anfinson and saved a shot from Elliott Lujan. Kingman added two more saves late before Coronado had its late scoring chances.
“She’s been consistent for us for a couple of seasons now,” Neel said. “It’s just a normal day for Megan.”
Coronado fended off a pair of early Faith Lutheran corner kicks in the first half. The Crusaders’ best scoring chance came on the second corner kick when Olivia Stark found Andrea Leyva in front of the net, but Leyva’s header hit the top of the crossbar. Kingman had three key saves in the first half.
“We played some good soccer and had some possessions, but I think we should have finished our chances better,” Karas said.
Sierah McCallum gave Coronado its best scoring chances late in the first half, but Gronauer stopped both of McCallum’s shots with less than five minutes before halftime.
“I think our progression of ironing out our problems was good for us. … We just need to find the net, our chances are there,” Neel said.
Coronado plays at No. 2 Bishop Gorman (8-2-0, 5-1-0) at 6 p.m. Tuesday, and Faith Lutheran hosts Desert Oasis at 4 p.m. Tuesday. The rematch between the two teams is Oct. 19 at Faith Lutheran.