Second chance at a state title |

Second chance at a state title

Carter Eckl
Devi Schwartz (8) tries to settle a ball while moving forward against Galena Saturday afternoon in the 4A Northern Region finals. Douglas opens the state tournament Thursday at 4 p.m. at Hug High School against Centennial.
Ron Harpin

There’s a reason Douglas High girls soccer went south to start the season.

The Tigers opened the season 0-4 with four losses to state-tournament caliber teams a year after a first round exit in the 2018 state tournament to Palo Verde.

It was a test to see where the Tigers needed to improve with the state’s best.

As Thursday’s game against Centennial looms, Douglas is one of only five teams remaining in 4A with a shot at a state title and a chance to show how much that early season trip south paid off.

Douglas (14-7-1) and Centennial (16-3-1) kickoff at 4 p.m. Thursday at Hug High School where Coronado awaits the winner Friday at noon.

After a holiday weekend away from the field, following a 5-0 loss to Galena in the Northern Region final, the Tigers will look to re-amplify their lineup as Thursday’s kickoff approaches.

Centennial and Douglas share a few common opponents, several of which were close to state tournament berths of their own, but the Tigers and the Bulldogs have both faced their semifinal opponent in Coronado.

Douglas fell 4-0 in its season opener to the team awaiting Thursday’s winner while Centennial handed Coronado its only loss of the season by a 2-0 margin on Sept. 6.

Forgetting the past

With five teams left in Class 4A across the state, three wins will net someone a state title.

Douglas head coach Andrew Robles is focused on his team and making sure the Tigers can move on from a difficult regional final loss to a Galena program that Douglas has become very familiar with over the years.

“It’s good that we lost in the sense that it brings that fire and that perfect time for the girls to wake up and want it,” said Robles. “When everyone talks about high school, state is what matters to everybody and we’re there.”

The main focal point of his pregame preparation has been on the Tigers being mentally ready for Thursday’s contest.

“With a bigger market you have more steady, consistent competition,” said Robles of Centennial, which plays out of Las Vegas. “That’s the only difference is the mentality side of it. These girls need to be ready to battle every game. It’s not going to be easy mentally.

Robles hasn’t been shy about his confidence in his team’s ability to make the state tournament, but now that Douglas is there his message has come full circle.

The Tigers tested themselves early on in the year against the likes of Coronado and Bishop Gorman to see where they needed to be when the state tournament rolled around.

“We wanted to see how far out or how close we are, and we’re there with them,” said Robles. “It’s just a matter of wanting it more.”

The biggest challenge Centennial presents for Douglas is senior forward Quincy Bonds (No. 3), who has posted 35 goals this season for the Bulldogs.

Centennial has two other double-digit goal scorers this season in Skye Kennedy (No. 20) with 15 goals and Viviana Cera (No. 5), who found the back of the net 10 times.

Defensively, the Bulldogs have been almost as impressive with 13 shutout wins over the course of the season.

Ultimately, Robles wants the Tigers to write off the regional final and remember, as one of the top five teams in the state, it just takes a couple of goals to be playing for a state title.

“Effort and hard work. If they’re going to beat us, let them beat us because they scored a good goal. Not like the Galena game where we lost when we dominated the game and had a mental lapse,” said Robles.

UP NEXT: Should Douglas advance to the semifinals, the Tigers will tangle with Coronado at Hug High School Friday at noon. The winner of that contest will play in the 4A state title game Saturday at Hug at 11 a.m.

“If we’re there, we’re ready,” said Robles of a potential Coronado matchup.