The Desert Vista Thunder advanced over the Gilbert Tigers to the second round of the girl’s 6A high school playoffs in a thrilling game that required penalty kicks Tuesday night.
The underdog Tigers, who were the 13 seed, scored the first goal of the game just four minutes in when Amberly Hastings connected from 30 yards out on an empty net.
Gilbert would retain the 1-0 lead all the way to halftime, despite multiple chances from Desert Vista to score coming up empty.
In the second half, the Thunder were finally able to tie the game at one when sophomore Cassandra Bych scored in the 64th minute.
Bych said the play that led to the goal was one the team had worked on the day before. “In practice I had maybe shot that goal 20 times in practice yesterday and it just worked out, I’m so happy about it,” said Bych after the game.
The game was still tied at one when the 80 minutes of regulation time came to an end. The teams would play two 10-minute overtime periods.
In the first period the Thunder had the only real chance to score when a Cassandra Bych shot slid just by the right post after the ball came to her on a ricochet.
The second overtime period was also scoreless, with the players showing signs of exhaustion, and the game would go to penalty kicks.
The first kicker for both the Thunder and Tigers missed their respective penalty kick over the goal. Then the next three players for each team would make, leading to a 3-3 tie going into the fifth and final frame.
Briannah Herman stepped up and buried her penalty for the Thunder and then the Tigers player missed her kick off of the crossbar, giving the Thunder the 4-3 win in penalties.
“I guess the soccer Gods were on our side this time around,” said Desert Vista head coach Marvin Hypolite after the game.
He was also proud of the resiliency his team showed when they were down for the majority of the game.
“The girls kept on playing and believed that we would eventually score,” said Hypolite.
As thrilling as the win was for Desert Vista, it was tough for Gilbert, but Gilbert head coach Ben Holzer gave his team credit after the game.
“I’m proud of the season, proud of the effort, proud of them playing for each other,” said Holzer, “There’s 100 ways to lose a game and in overtime in penalty kicks is not the worst way to go out.”
For Desert Vista, who have made it to the state championship each of the past three years, their season continues. The Tigers will play fifth seed Hamilton High School at home this upcoming Saturday in the second round. Hamilton defeated their first-round opponent, Kofa High School, by a score of 9-0 Tuesday night.