Girls' Soccer: Tigers advance to regional title game

A 3-1 win over Elko in the Northern 4A State semifinals at Damonte Ranch Thursday night propelled the Douglas girls' soccer team into the championship game for the first time in seven years.


It also made this year's Tigers the winningest team in the program's 17-year history with 19 victories.


Still, it's that one remaining game that has the team feeling discontent.


"We're happy (to get to the title game), it's a good day," Douglas coach Lorraine Fitzhugh said. "But we are not content yet.


"We just have to try to put things together on Saturday. We're not content to settle with making it there. We want one more win."


Douglas will take on either Reed or Galena at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Damonte Ranch for the 4A title.


This year's seniors were in the sixth-grade the last time Douglas advanced to the regional title game (The Tigers beat Reed in Sparks in 2002 to claim their last regional title).


"It's been a long time," said Tiger senior Ally Freitas, who scored all three of Douglas' goals against Elko. "It feels good. The whole season we knew we had a good mix of players. It just feels right this year."


Elko came out playing a physical game and had the slight edge in possession and scoring opportunities early on. They consistently packed up to six players into the box defensively during Douglas' attacks, which helped to keep the Tigers from managing a single shot through the first 20 minutes.


It was the physicality, though, that ended up coming back to get the Indians.


A foul just inside the half line gave Douglas a free kick from 45 yards out in the 28th minute. Mackenzie Cauley played the ball nicely toward the net, where it trickled in front for a moment. Freitas made a nice spin move around her defender and tapped the ball home for the 1-0 lead.


On the ensuing kickoff, Douglas gained possession and drew another foul, this time about 35 yards out.


Dany Heidt took the free kick and Freitas managed to break away behind the pack to put the goal in.


"I really think once we got the lead we started focusing more on hunkering down and possessing the ball as opposed to just driving it down and trying to shove it down their throats," Freitas said. "Just maintaining possession and playing smart was the key tonight.


"They were putting a lot of people back on defense. We started looking to open the field up with drop back passes. That made some room for our crosses and spread their defense a little bit."


Douglas scored its third goal in the 72nd minute when Kelly D'Amico pushed the ball through to Freitas for the score.


The Tigers got a particularly good effort out of junior CJ Baumgartner on the wing, as well as Heidt, Alex Laing and Katie Dry in the midfield.


Dry, however, went down with an apparent muscle pull late in the game and her status is uncertain for Saturday.


Elko added a goal in the final minute, spoiling the shutout for an otherwise brilliant defensive night for the Tigers' back unit of Cora Moody, Shannon Hubbard, D'Amico, Sage Lyons, Cauley and keeper Brianna Randall, who had eight saves.


"Elko is a very smart, aggressive team," Fitzhugh said. "Hopefully we will be able to use what they did for Saturday's game and put that with what we do. The girls are excited and confident in what they do. They responded well to Elko's style of play physically. It's just a special team. Not one person stands out, they are all comrades. They are very unified."

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