Desert Vista’s McKenzie Semerad (14) battles for the ball during the Diablo Tournament final against Gilbert Highland, held Saturday at Mountain Pointe High School.

If the Desert Vista girls soccer team has its way, the Thunder likely won’t have to step foot on to the field at Karl Kiefer Stadium – home to rival Mountain Pointe – until at least next season.

Desert Vista fell, 2-1, to Gilbert Highland in the championship of the Tempe Diablo Class tournament Saturday at Mountain Pointe. In two games this season on the nearby campus – Saturday’s final and the team’s season opener against Mountain Pointe – Desert Vista has fallen by identical 2-1 margins. The rest of the slate? 7-0-1, without a single goal allowed.

“We got a chance to work on a whole lot of stuff in the last two weeks,” Thunder coach Paul Manoogian said, “so I’m real pleased.”

Because mid-season tournaments don’t count toward the Class 5A-I power rankings, Manoogian admits that showcases like the Diablo Classic offer coaches the perfect opportunity to work on new schemes, see different lineups, and simply get most of the roster more playing time.

Against Highland, Desert Vista held a 1-0 lead at halftime thanks to a goal by McKenzie Porhola.

After tying the game in the second half, Highland put the ball in the net inside of four seconds to play in regulation, but a whistle blew the play off-sides. Highland would capitalize in overtime, however, when Karisa Price punched in her second goal of the game with less than a minute to go in the second extra frame, preventing a penalty-kick shootout.

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