It was so close to penalties kicks. All Arbor View had to do was hang on less than a minute longer, and a shootout would have decided Thursday’s Mountain Region girls soccer semifinal, where it would be anyone’s game.
Palo Verde’s Taylor Crouch didn’t want to take that chance.
Crouch collected a rebound and roofed the game-winning goal in the final minute of the second overtime, and the Panthers captured a 3-2 win at Bettye Wilson Soccer Complex.
“I am just thinking in my head, ‘How can I finish it?’” Crouch said. “It’s kind of for my seniors. They kept saying ring season, so I kept saying to myself ring season through everything. Saying it right there: ring season, ring season, ring season no matter what goes down.”
The Panthers (13-4-3) play Faith Lutheran (19-2) in the title game at 2 p.m. Saturday at Bettye Wilson.
Both teams qualified for next week’s state tournament.
Palo Verde scored in the 47th minute to break a 1-1 tie, and Arbor View (13-4-5) answered in the 61st minute to send the game to overtime. Then after 15 more scoreless minutes, the end of second overtime saw two prime free-kick opportunities.
In the 104th minute, Arbor View’s Amber Mallas pounded the free kick into the Palo Verde wall, and with two minutes remaining, Carlee Giammona could not find net for the Panthers.
Then as time was almost out, Kamryn Klinger rang a shot off Arbor View keeper Krystin Cooper that bounced right to Crouch to end it.
“It was all luck, it had nothing to do with talent,” Crouch said. “I just chipped it right over.”
Crouch had two goals, and Giammona scored Palo Verde’s other goal.
Amber Mallas and Jolianna Meyers each scored once for the Aggies, and Cooper made 13 saves.
“I just give hats off to my girls, fight until the end,” Palo Verde coach Frank Messina said. “It’s awesome.”
Faith Lutheran 4, Centennial 1 — Madison Sonerholm had a goal and an assist, and the Crusaders scored three second-half goals to beat the Bulldogs in the other semifinal.
Amelia McManus, Kennedy Lazenby and Hannah Thomas each scored once for Faith Lutheran, which qualified for the state tournament.
It is the first trip to the region title game and tne state tournament for the Crusaders as a Class 4A team. They won the Division I-A (now Class 3A) state championship in 2015.
Viviana Cera scored for Centennial (14-4-4).