When Coronado’s girls soccer team went to Bishop Gorman on Oct. 17, the Gaels celebrated senior night with a 7-0 win.
But with coach Dana Neel resting several players, the score was clearly not indicative of the true matchup between what many believe are the area’s two best teams.
Saturday is the rematch.
Alysa Caso scored two goals Thursday, including the game-winner with five minutes remaining, to lift Coronado past Desert Oasis, 3-2, in the Class 4A Mountain Region semifinals at Bettye Wilson Soccer Complex.
Gorman defeated Foothill in the other semifinal, 6-1.
“Our girls are excited to play them again,” Neel said. “We know what they have to offer.”
Desert Oasis offered plenty of competition in the semifinals, as the Diamondbacks led late in the game.
Desert Oasis trailed 1-0 at halftime, but got a penalty kick from Alex Houston and a 30-yard blast from Audrey Dunn to beat Coronado goalkeeper Taylor Book to give the Diamondbacks a 2-1 lead with 18 minutes to play.
Coronado was able to pull even four minutes later and began putting the pressure on Desert Oasis goalkeeper Samantha Gato.
But Gato was spectacular in turning away four shots in consecutive sequences that thwarted the Cougars’ efforts. It was a fifth sequence, however, that proved to be the dagger.
After another big save by Gato, Caso was in the right spot in the midst of traffic in front of the net to deliver the winner with a header.
“I think that we got comfortable, so our intensity obviously dropped, and we kind of let them come back,” Caso said. “I thought their keeper did really well, but I think it was more about us not focusing on our chances. Us continually knocking balls at her maybe tired her out. I’m just happy that we got the dub.”
Kaitlyn Kowalchuk also scored for Coronado, and Book had three saves.
Even with the loss, Gato said she was proud of how her team defied the naysayers who believed the Diamondbacks would be a pushover against a perennial power like Coronado.
“We were the underdogs all season. We had a few games where we were falling apart a little bit, but in the end, we pulled together as a team,” said Gato, who had 10 saves. “We have great chemistry, everyone on the team loves each other and ultimately that’s what led us to the second round of the playoffs.”
Bishop Gorman 6, Foothill 1 — Jaden Terrana scored twice for the defending state champion Gaels, and Ashtyn Fink, Kevyn Hillegas, Jacqueline Hillegas and Kennedy Enus each added a goal.
Terrana put the Gaels on the board early, when she knocked in a rebound past Falcons goalkeeper Felicity Reimann in the eighth minute. Fink broke free down the left side eight minutes later and powered a shot under Reimann. Kevyn Hillegas’ shot from just outside the 18-yard box found the top shelf in the right corner to make it 3-0 at the half.
After Terrana added her second goal in the 46th minute, Brooke Vokoun scored the lone goal for the Falcons one minute later, cutting Gorman’s lead to 4-1.
“We weren’t going to go down without a fight; they have a really high attitude where they think they’re better than everyone and I just wanted to show them they’re not all that they think they are,” Vokoun said. “We get that mindset that we have to show them that they’re not all that they think they are and we can push through and we have a chance. I know we lost but we still wanted to have that mentality that we could fight to the end.”
Enus and Jacqueline Hillegas tacked on goals to push the game out of reach.
“It’s really important for us to show we’re the top dog and we can do it,” Terrana said. “I thought maybe they would let off, but they gave us a run for our money. We had to work our hardest to overcome. Coach’s philosophy is winning everything. His main goal is to win.”
Gorman coach Doug Borgel said he wasn’t surprised one bit by the scrappiness from Foothill, as he was well aware of their talent, and how hungry they would come out considering a state tournament berth was on the line.
“Beating Gorman is a goal of every team,” Borgel said. “When you are at the top, as we are now, then everybody is gunning for you and you gotta be ready. If you’re not sharp one day you’re gonna go down because you get everybody’s best.”