Douglas High girls soccer overcomes early jitters, cruises into regional semis
The Tiger girls soccer team may not have started as quickly as they would have liked Monday night against McQueen to open up 4A Northern Regional play, but once Douglas found the back of the net the flood gates opened.
Ultimately, Douglas won 4-0 moving the Tigers into the regional semifinals Wednesday at 4 p.m. against Damonte Ranch (10-7-2) after the Mustangs beat Spanish Springs 6-5 in overtime, overcoming a 3-1 deficit at the half.
The regional semifinal contest will be played at Carson High School and will be followed by the other semifinal between Reed and Galena.
Douglas and Damonte Ranch have met twice this season with the Tigers winning 5-1 in the first meeting and 1-0 in the second.
“We’re ready. We’ve played them twice,” said Douglas head coach Andrew Robles. “Obviously, it’s going to be a different game in the playoffs. We just got to want it more.”
Douglas senior and the team’s leading scorer posted the first crooked number on the scoreboard in the 38th minute.
Madi Smalley took a touch toward the Douglas sideline, turned with a defender on her back and let loose from about 27 yards out, burying her shot in the top right corner.
About one minute later Vaneza Diaz tacked on another goal, beating the Lancer keeper and putting the ball in the far side netting.
After the Tigers went the first 37 minutes with two real scoring chances, they went into the halftime intermission up 2-0.
“It’s a playoff match so you don’t want to do anything wrong,” said Robles of some early jitters. “Big players come in big games.”
That late first half confidence carried right over into the second half where Smalley once again found the back of the net.
Nothing about Smalley’s shot was routine as the senior forward ripped the ball into the top netting, which slapped the net untouched.
Robles only needed one word to describe Smalley’s goals – ‘golazo.’
“It was a golazo,” said Robles. “She put it in the top corner. She had two of them.”
In the 60th minute Douglas got on the board again as Smalley crossed the ball into the box for Diaz. A Lancer defender who was trying to keep Diaz from getting to the ball knocked in the final goal for the Tigers after a touch from Diaz.
Robles has been experimenting with new formations up front and the first-year head coach – who picked up his first postseason win Monday night – thought once his team settled in it worked well.
McQueen put together some scoring chances, but the Douglas defense, which had allowed just three goals in the month of October held firm.
A good chunk of the Lancers’ chances came from outside the 18-yard box.
Robles said the team also met prior to the contest to get mentally prepared, something new for the Tigers this season.
Douglas is now one win away from clinching a state tournament berth.