The result of the Desert Vista-Pinnacle girls soccer match was eerily the same but the impact was not.
The Thunder and the Pioneers were tangled in another physical, heated and well played contest on Monday morning that followed a similar script of Pinnacle’s overtime win in last year’s state quarterfinals.
This time the meeting was in the semifinals of the Arizona Soccer Showcase so there wasn’t nearly as much on the line, but Pinnacle found away to advance again with a 3-1 win over the Thunder.
The Pioneers advanced to the 1 p.m. final against Highland, which qualified with a 3-2 OT win over Rosary (Calif).
“It was physical and well played,” Pioneer coach Adam Chrestman said. “It was good girls soccer. As long as it is not dirty we are totally ready to handle it.”
After a scoreless first half, Pinnacle scored in the first 2 minutes of the restart on the first of two goals by Maddie Kmetko, an Arizona State commit.
“It was against the run of play,” Chrestman said. “Desert Vista dominated possession and we just kept working. It was big for us.”
The Thunder, who were without head coach Marvin Hyploite as he was in his home country of Trinidad and Tobago, answered at the halfway point on a terrific goal by Rachel Ressler, who connected with her right foot to the high far-side of the net as she was going to the ground.
“Rachel Ressler is probably one of the best players, boy or girl, I’ve ever seen,” assistant coach Bruce Hough said. “Her skills are incredible and she is like a little bull.”
The lead didn’t last long as Desert Vista was called for a handball within the goalie box. Jorian Baucom beat Thunder goalie Alexa Ryder to left for the 2-1 advantage.
The Thunder had a chance to tie the match soon thereafter when Kelly Watson broke free, but was brought down with a hard tackle.
Desert Vista thought it should have led to a penalty kick, but possession was awarded to Pinnacle. It led to yellow cards for Ressler and Watson.
"There was some frustration at the end," sophomore Hannah Gavin said. "We had our chances but a lot of stuff didn't go our way."
Early in the game the Thunder had more offensive chances but seemingly found the chest of the Pinnacle goalie rather than one side or the other.
“We are not finishing the way we need to,” Hough said. “Overall we played pretty well (in the tournament). We expect to see them again.”
The tournament was test of depth as pool play and the quarterfinals amounted to four matches in 48 hours. Considering the Thunder were missing about eight players – Ressler came back for the semifinal – and their head coach because of family holiday travel plans the team fared pretty well.
“It was a real test of endurance and they came through,” Hough said. “We called up some JV players and they did a good job. It will make us stronger in the long run.”
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.