SANTA ANA PUEBLO — Somewhere Friday afternoon, one Hawk Nation will be soaring.
Class 5A’s two Hawks, Volcano Vista and Centennial, will meet at 12:30 p.m. Friday for the Class 5A girls state soccer championship after posting semifinal victories Thursday that were in deep contrast to one another.
Centennial, which has never been to a title game, overcame a very late — and practically laws-of-physics defying — goal by Cibola and outlasted the Cougars in penalty kicks. Volcano Vista, last a state champion in 2010, cruised past Carlsbad in the other semifinal.
No. 6 CENTENNIAL 1, No. 2 CIBOLA 1 (Centennial wins 7-6 in shootout): Junior goalkeeper Rylee Thatcher made two saves in penalties, including a stop in the eighth round to end it as the Hawks (20-1-2) extended their winning streak to 15 games.
“Just the feeling of everyone staring at you from the sidelines, the crowd yelling. it was intense, so intense,” said a teary-eyed Thatcher. “You have no idea.”
The teams traded impressive goals in the second half after a scoreless opening 40 minutes.
Kayla Reynaud fired a 30-yard direct kick past Cibola goalkeeper Elizabeth Tipton in the 56th minute for the game’s first goal.
“It looked like she was gonna get it but it was too high for her,” Reynaud said. And it was still 1-0 for Centennial, almost into the final minute.
In the 79th, Cibola’s right-footed Emily Aguilar, shooting from Thatcher’s left, somehow scored directly off a corner kick, stunningly tying the match. And the breeze, what there was of it, was blowing out toward the center, making the curvature of Aguilar’s shot, toward the net, even more difficult to explain since it should have moved away from Thatcher.
“I believe even if I wouldn’t have touched it,” Thatcher said, “it would have gone into the back of the net. It had a weird curve to it.”
Cibola finishes the season 17-3.
“PKs are the worst way to lose,” Cougars coach Heath Weihe said.
Centennial coach Alex Reyes said Friday will mark a first-ever meeting between his Hawks and Volcano Vista’s Hawks.
“We’re not done yet,” Reyes said. “We put ourselves in a position where we talked about being all year, and knowing we were capable of being here.”
Said Thatcher: “I was just trying to get my seniors one more game, trying to get the rest of us one more game. We worked so hard to get here. So hard.”
CENTENNIAL 1, CIBOLA 1
(Centennial wins 7-6 in penalty kicks)
Centennial 0 1 0 — 1
Cibola 0 1 0 — 1
Scoring: Cent, 56th, Kayla Reynaud; Cib, 79th, Emily Aguilar. Shots on goal: Cent 5; Cib 8. Saves: Cent, Rylee Thatcher 6; Cib, Rylee Tafoya 2, Elizabeth Tipton 3. Corners: Cent 4; Cib 7. Records: Cent 20-1-2; Cib 17-3.
No. 1 VOLCANO VISTA 4, No. 5 CARLSBAD 0: Volcano Vista (18-2) erupted for four first-half goals, including two in the first 15 minutes, and were never in jeopardy against the Cavegirls (17-3-3).
“It was a great game,” Hawks coach Samantha Lucero said. “Even when I made subs or changes, nothing went down. The energy was high and I’m very excited for tomorrow.”
Gabby Montoya assisted on both of Volcano Vista’s first two goals — Arianna Cisneros’ in the seventh minute, and Hailey Briceno’s in the 14th. Briceno also scored the game-winner in the Hawks’ quarterfinal victory Wednesday.
“It was important to come out strong,” said Montoya. “It set the tone for the rest of the game.”
Lauren Machuca and Dalis Bruce doubled the lead before halftime for Volcano Vista, in its first state final since 2012.
“It’s been a long time,” Lucero said. “And I’ve got the team that I know can do it.”
In net Thursday, Alex Peralta had her second shutout of the tournament, and 17th of the season.
“I didn’t expect her to come out that strong this year,” Montoya said. “She’s amazed me and the rest of the team.”
VOLCANO VISTA 4, CARLSBAD 0
Carlsbad 0 0 — 0
Volcano Vista 4 0 — 4
Scoring: VV, 7th, Arianna Cisneros (Gabby Montoya); VV, 14th, Hailey Briceno (Montoya); VV, 20th, Lauren Machuca (Briceno); VV, 33rd, Dalis Bruce (Savannah Gutierrez). Shots on goal: C 2; VV 10. Saves: C 6; VV, Alex Peralta 2. Corners: C 0; VV 6. Records: VV 18-2; C 17-3-3.