Green Valley’s girls soccer team had taken 12 first-half shots while allowing just one, but the Gators still held just a 2-1 lead at hafltime on Thursday.
So when Victoria Whitehouse finished a short run down the middle by placing a shot from the top of the penalty box into the upper right corner of the goal, Green Valley’s bench let out a collective sigh of relief.
Whitehouse added another goal, and Alexis Kirson scored twice as the Gators pulled away for a 5-1 win in the Sunrise Region semifinals at Heritage Park.
“We all took a deep breath,” Green Valley coach Catherine Davis said of Whitehouse’s first goal. “We just had so many shots that were just a little bit off. We couldn’t quite put the biscuit in the basket, but definitely finally did it enough to get the (win).”
Green Valley (16-4-4) plays Coronado (14-7) in the region final at noon on Saturday at Heritage Park.
The Gators were in control from the start, controlling the ball and pressuring Silverado’s defense. Green Valley got on the board in the fourth minute. A Silverado defender nearly put the ball in her own net on a long free kick, but the ball rattled off the post. Talia Lopez was there to gather the loose ball, and her goal made it 1-0.
Green Valley added a goal on a penalty kick by Kirson in the 17th minute, but the Gators were unable to extend their lead.
Silverado (12-4-2) made good on its only shot of the first half when Victoria Sanchez took a pass from Deanna Passarella and dropped a shot over Green Valley goalkeeper Kiyana Lopez in the 26th minute.
The Gators continued to pressure Silverado in the second half with 10 more shots. Whitehouse’s goal in the 48th minute made it 3-1, and she added another later on a pass from Sydney Holborrow.
Holborrow later passed the ball to Kirson, who cut in and then back outside before knocking home a right-footed shot to the far post for the final margin.
“One of our priorities today was to absolutely come out on this field and set the pace, set the tone of this game from the second that we started,” Davis said. “And we never let that pace die. We kept it up for all 80 minutes.”
Coronado defeated the Gators 6-0 and 2-0 during Southeast League play, and had a 3-2 win in a tournament earlier, although the Cougars later had to forfeit that game.
“Coronado’s been our Achilles’ heel all season,” Davis said. “They are so pumped and focused going into this game on doing exactly what they did today: setting the pace from day one, playing their possession. When we play our possession game, no one can touch us.”
Coronado 6, Foothill 3 — Kiley Westbrook had two goals, and the Cougars scored the first four goals of the match on their way to a win over the Falcons.
Michaela Morris’ goal just 2:35 into the match gave Coronado the lead for good, and the Cougars had 21 shots on goal.
Morris, Ashley Thomas, Carli Young and Alexis Schuck each had a goal and an assist for Coronado.
Katherine Ballou got Foothill (11-5-3) on the board with 25:50 to play, taking advantage of a bad clearing attempt by Coronado. Ballou scored twice, and Taylor Arteaga had a goal and an assist for the Falcons.