Updated November 11, 2023 - 10:15 pm
If soccer teams were awarded points for time of possession, the Faith Lutheran girls would have won big Saturday.
But that’s not how it works.
Instead, Coronado made the most of its limited opportunities to edge the Crusaders 2-1 in the Class 5A state championship game at Coronado.
Ryan Neel scored from the middle of a close-range scrum in the game’s seventh minute, and the fourth-seeded Cougars (17-4-5) were on their way to defeating the No. 3 Crusaders (18-4-2) for the first time this season.
Faith Lutheran defeated Coronado 1-0 in overtime in last year’s title game.
“In the game of soccer, you’ve got to capitalize on your chances,” said Coronado coach Dana Neel, whose team was 0-1-1 against Faith Lutheran heading into Saturday. “(The early goal) gave us a boost, but we knew Faith Lutheran was going to try every trick in their book.”
The Cougars scored on each of their first two opportunities, despite the ball spending most of the first half on the other side of the field. They made it 2-0 when Crusaders goalkeeper Demi Gronauer lost her footing in heavy action and Tia Garr fired the ball in from 10 yards out.
Faith Lutheran scored midway through the second half to cut the deficit to 2-1, and the Crusaders used every trick they had in an attempt to tie it in the final minute of extra time. Coming out of a corner kick, the Crusaders took three shots through heavy traffic in the final 30 seconds, but none got by Coronado goalkeeper Megan Kingman.
The Cougars finally cleared the ball, the whistle blew, and the championship celebration began.
“There was a lot of emotion there at the end,” Dana Neel said. “But we were intense, and we finally got the ball out.”
Neel said the key to the victory was peaking at the right time.
“This season has been a work in progress,” she said. “But it’s all about what you do in this one game. We just continued to grow every step of the way.”
— No. 1N McQueen 2, No. 1S Foothill 0: At Carson, the Lancers (22-1-2) scored a goal in each half to claim the 4A state championship and hand the Falcons (22-1-2) their first loss of the season.
Foothill was unable to convert multiple scoring opportunities.
“I feel like our girls were kind of tired,” said Falcons coach Chem Simoneau, who said her team struggled with transportation and lodging inconveniences. “I believe they gave everything they had, but honestly the other team was just really good. We had some good looks, but we just couldn’t get it past their goalkeeper.”
Despite the loss, Simoneau said it was a successful season.
“This is the best team we’ve ever had here at Foothill,” she said. “So I’m really proud.”
— No. 1S Pahrump Valley 1, No. 1N Truckee 0 (OT): At Cristo Rey, Courtney Van House scored on a breakaway assist from Kai Martinez to give the Trojans (24-1-2) the 3A state championship with an overtime victory over the Wolverines (20-4-1).
Contact Jeff Wollard at firstname.lastname@example.org.