Girls soccer dominates top-ranked Hamilton, advances to semifinals

Written by Graham Eversden, Staff Writer

The girls soccer team traveled to Hamilton and outplayed everyone’s expectations to defeat the top-ranked Huskies, 2-1. The Aztecs advance to the semifinals against Desert Vista.

“The biggest thing for us is that we played a tough (schedule),” head coach Matt Smith said. “Of the seven teams left in the tournament (before today), we played six of them. We are just looking forward to having a second shot at these teams.”

Senior defender Laney Gordon started the Aztecs off on the right foot with a goal 20 minutes into the game. After junior Olivia Nguyen drew a foul just outside the box, Gordon masterfully lifted the free kick over the goalie’s outstretched arms and into the back of the net.

“I didn’t want to miss,” Gordon said. “I wanted to get a good ball for everyone, and then I opened my eyes and it was in the net.”

Hamilton had its share of chances over the remainder of the half, including a free kick that rocketed a foot over the goal. The Aztec defense held went into halftime with a one goal lead.

“We never had a doubt in our mind that we were going to win this game,” Gordon said. “We knew we were the underdogs. That pushed us and made us play harder.”

The Aztecs continued their dominance at the start of the second half. Five minutes in, junior Abby Robertson fired a shot that deflected off the goalie and then off the crossbar. It fell to junior Skylar Byrnes, who calmly rolled it into the back of the net for a 2-0 Aztec lead.

The Aztecs spent the remainder of the game defending their goal and didn’t create many more scoring opportunities. Open shots from 12 and 10 yards out were both put wide by the Huskies. It wasn’t until 10 minutes left that Hamilton broke through the Aztec defense. A free kick from 22 yards out was curled around the wall and past the diving goalie to cut the lead to 2-1.

“(Hamilton) responded like any really good team is going to,” Smith said. “They came at us. But we start three seniors on the back line and a senior in the goal. They took care of it and did the little things they needed to to make sure we are moving on.”

The remainder of the game was stressful for the defense as they clung to the 2-1 lead. Hamilton was unable to score and the Aztecs took the victory.

“We did what we always do,” Gordon said. “We talked to each other and we had each other’s backs.”

Corona advances to face Desert Vista Feb. 8 at 5 p.m. at Campo Verde. With a win, the Aztecs would advance to the state title game. The Aztecs faced DV once already this year, losing 1-0 on a late goal in a back-and-forth game.

“I would like to play DV again,” Gordon said, “because of the rivalry. I know that the next time we play them, we’re going to win.”