RENO -- The smallest player on the field made the biggest difference for Douglas.
Senior Tracey Hawks, all 4-foot-11 of her, headed home a Terran Hadlock corner kick in 77th minute as the Tigers beat Galena 3-2 in the Northern 4A semifinals on Thursday at Foster Field.
It will be the third consecutive zone championship appearance for Douglas, which will play South Tahoe/Reed in the final on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Reno High. The Tigers' only two losses this season have come against South Tahoe and Reed.
"We don't really care which team we play," said coach Fred Schmidt. "Both teams beat us early in the season when we really weren't playing that well. One thing I know is that we'll have to play as good, if not better than we did tonight, if we want to win."
For the first part of the game, Douglas (17-2-1) was playing like its usual self, knocking the ball around, keeping possession and creating chance after chance on goal. It was capped off by Hadlock's goal in the 18th minute off a pass from Christina Bradshaw. But once the Sierra League champions went up 1-0, Galena suddenly took over.
After Douglas failed to clear the ball from insides its own penalty kick, Veronica Walker tied it 1-1 in the 30th minute after placing a shot past Andrea Bryant. Three minutes into the second half, Abby Walker put the Grizzlies (14-3) up 2-1 after another failed clearance by the Tigers was kept alive by Walker and the ball eventually landed in front of Walker.
"We were playing really well but after we scored, we lost our intensity," Schmidt said. "Then Galena was playing really well. It really went back and forth. But the six seniors here have been to three straight zone finals now and they weren't going to let this one slip away."
And no senior was more important than Hadlock, who chased down a throw in the 64th minute and found Bradshaw alone in the box. Bradshaw one-touched Hadlock's pass to the far post to make it 2-2. Then came the best goal of the game when Hawks out jumped everybody, amazingly, and redirected Hadlock's corner into the net for the game winner.
"That was a designed play and we've scored off that three or four times this year," Schmidt said. "Terran Hadlock played her best game of the season. Terran and Tracey both had outstanding games. All the seniors did. Even after they scored (in the second half), we knew we had plenty of time."
Galena and Douglas have quite a history of playing one another. Three years ago, the zone tournament was played at Douglas High and the Grizzlies beat the top-seeded Tigers 1-0 in the semifinals. Two years ago, Douglas packed it in on defense and held on to beat Galena en route to its first ever zone title.
"Three years ago they beat us on our home field and we were the better team," Schmidt said. "Two years ago, they were probably the better team. Today was just a great game between two good teams."