Senior midfielder Kiahna Pimental has been cooling her heels on the bench the last couple of weeks because of grade problems, but after satisfying her academic issues, she is expected to be in the starting lineup when Carson, 12-3-4, hosts Coronado, 15-1-4, in the Division I state semifinals Friday at 8:30 a.m.
“I couldn’t be more excited,” Pimental said. “What I basically told the team last week (after the Reno win) I thanked them for giving me my senior season back. I couldn’t ask for anything more than that. It was really hard to go through, but I learned an important lesson.
“Melissa Glanzmann did such a great job of filling in. The girls did such a great job.”
The addition of Pimental gives Carson maturity in the field as well as somebody who can score (5 goals). Pimental is a rock in the middle; a smart player which is what you need in the midfield holding spot.
“I kind of cherry pick,” Pimental said. “My main goal is to stop the ball. The coaches say I’m good at that. I feed the ball forward to the midfielders and the forwards.”
What Pimental also brings is boundless energy. She plays hard and with a lot of passion.
“She’s really excited,” coach Greg Lehman said. “It definitely gives us a rotation. We’ve been looking at different options in the midfield. We may keep Melissa there somewhere. Kiahna is high energy. She is ready to go. She is really excited. The girls did a great job to give her the opportunity to play one and hopefully two more games.
“She constantly communicates with her teammates. Her attitude is great. She is always encouraging her teammates. She is good with the ball. She is a player who wants to win the ball.”
Lehman expects that Pimental might be a little amped.
“She might be the first five minutes,” the CHS coach said. “We’ve been going through situational type stuff during practice. We’re trying to get everybody in the right mindset. She has been training with us everyday.”
Lehman admits he doesn’t know a lot about Coronado, which knocked off Green Valley to reach this week’s tournament. He said he watched a five-minute video. No doubt he’s been perusing the Internet to find out anything he can about the Cougars.
The Cougars are led by Michaela Morris, who scored 28 goals and added 12 assists. She isn’t Coronado’s only scorer, however.
Taylor Houston had 10 goals and eight assists, while Chynna Zurflueh enters the game with nine goals and three assists. Savannah Schmidt has five goals and nine assists. Keeper Erin Heenan has 3.5 shutouts so far.
“I’m sure she is very fast,” Lehman said of Morris. “She is a ODP regional pool player. We’re not going to mark her 1-on-1. We may pressure out high to make it harder for her teammates to get her the ball; not receive the ball in open space.”
Carson drew the short straw in terms of starting times for Friday. Probably the only people in the stands for Carson will be parents. With school in session, it’s unlikely there will be a students at the game. Galena follows at 10:30 a.m. and will likely be in the same boat.
“It’s not ideal,” Lehman admitted. “It’s more of a disadvantage to the Las Vegas teams who have to travel on Thursday, stay in a hotel and then come out and play the first thing in the morning. We at least get to sleep in our own beds and follow a more normal routine.”
One of the more pressing questions to be answered is if the Senators have a hangover from last weekend’s disappointing loss to Galena in the Northern regional final.
“Everybody was sad at first,” Pimental said. “We still have a chance to win a championship — a state championship.
“One key thing is that we need to trust each other out there. We have a lot of talented players, and we have to work together as a team. If we play like we’re capable of, we can be a state championship team.”