MINDEN - Galena High School girls soccer chalked up a couple of firsts on Thursday afternoon.
Not only did Galena beat Douglas for the first time ever, and, thanks to a 1-0 Northern 4A zone tournament semifinal victory, the Grizzlies now find themselves in the position of playing for their first championship.
Patricia Garrick scored on a 30-yard direct kick in the 62nd minute to supply Galena (13-4-2) with its margin of victory against the regular season Division II champion Tigers.
"It was a great game, a great battle between two teams that played for it," said Galena coach Tom Canino, whose squad plays Carson for the championship Saturday at 10 a.m. at Carson High School.
On the other hand, Douglas closed the book on one of its best seasons ever with a 17-2-1 record.
"I thought we played well enough to win," Douglas coach Fred Schmidt said. "We played with intensity, we played with emotion and we played with skill. We had our chances, but it comes down to this - whoever puts the ball in the back of the net wins the game, and sometimes that can be really hard to do."
On Thursday that was a difficult task against Galena goalkeeper Jayleen Chen.
"Jayleen came up big for us," Canino said of the junior. "This was her best game of the year. They put a lot of balls through, but she was aggressive - she came out and attacked the ball."
Chen, who was was credited with 10 saves, had plenty of help from a defensive unit that has allowed only nine goals all season. One of the keys to the unit is sweeper Karla Orellana.
"We call her 'The Wall.' She stops everything," senior co-captain Christine Fujita said. "There were some scary moments. They had a lot of chances, but our defense really pulled through."
Galena's scoring chance was set up when Bianca Sicotto drew a foul on a hip check just outside the box on the right side. Garrick lofted a shot to the far post that found the net.
"The girl just hit a good shot," Schmidt said.
"But the thing I'm most proud of, the last 10 minutes, we probably played the most aggressive, attacking soccer we've played all year," the Douglas coach asserted.
Douglas goalkeeper Ashley Sulprizio was credited with seven saves.
"You've got to give Douglas credit. They played a great game," Galena junior co-captain Annie Baxter said.
Galena has come a long way since Canino took over as head coach in 1997. The Grizzlies were 5-12 that season, then improved to 12-2-4 last year before losing to Reed in the zone semifinals, 1-0.
"This isn't a surprise because of last year," Baxter said. "We wanted to do better this year."