PREP SOCCER: Douglas girls defend state title | NevadaAppeal.com

PREP SOCCER: Douglas girls defend state title

Joey Crandall
Nevada Appeal News Service

RENO – From the moment the final whistle blew on last year’s state championship game, many assumed that the Douglas girls’ soccer team would automatically be right back there this season hoisting the trophy for the second year in a row.

And in a lot of ways, that assumption proved to be correct.

Douglas claimed its second consecutive state title Saturday afternoon on the same field, against the same opponent, even by the same score as last year – beating Galena 2-0 in the state title game at Damonte Ranch.

The Tigers even capped the year with an identical record to last season – 22-2-2.

But ask any of the Lady Tigers and they’ll quickly tell you the road was anything but similar, or easy for that matter.

“It feels amazing, but this year was different,” said Douglas forward Tia Lyons, who had a hand in all four Douglas goals scored in the state tournament, including a score and an secondary assist in Saturday’s title game. “It was so much harder.

“We knew every time we went out there that we were going to be getting that team’s best game. There was definitely a target on our backs.”

Coach Lorraine Fitzhugh agreed.

“We’d go and scout teams during the year, as a whole team,” she said. “What we saw a lot was a big difference in the effort and style compared to when these teams were on the field with us.

“Part of it might have been because we do play at a faster tempo, and that requires other teams to adjust and play at a higher energy, but we could see were getting a visible extra effort from our opponents all year.”

Such was the case from Galena Saturday afternoon as the Grizzlies looked to reverse last year’s state runner-up finish.

“Carson really took a lot out of us (in Friday’s state semifinal matchup),” Fitzhugh said. “We were very fatigued emotionally and physically coming into today.

“That’s the type of girls they are. They don’t quit. Even when they aren’t at 100 percent, they still give you 100 percent.”

Douglas got on the board within the first 20 minutes, as it did in all five of its postseason games.

Jessica Vega placed a corner in front of the net in the 15th minute that Galena put the initial stop on. The rebound bounced out to Lyons, though, who sent the ball just under the crossbar for the 1-0 lead.

“I saw their defender kick it back and the keeper just kind of slapped it down without controlling it,” Lyons said. “We’re always telling each other to follow on the corners and I was able to get there at the right time.”

The early goal allowed Douglas to settle in to more of a defensive mode and also allowed Fitzhugh to sub in a good portion of her bench to relieve a tired midfield from Friday night’s game.

Douglas extended its lead to 2-0 in the 50th minute on a beautiful combination play that stretched the Galena defense to perfection.

Katie Dry broke loose near midfield and placed an entry pass to the left wing that sprung Lyons on a wide run. Lyons carried the ball down to just below the top of the penalty box, where she crossed for Alex Laing standing in the center at the top of the box.

The Galena defense made the adjustment to mark Laing, but Laing quickly shuffled the ball over back to a charging Dry, who hammered it past the Galena keeper for the goal.

Douglas keeper Bri Randall made eight saves in posting her seventh solo shutout of the year. She and freshman keeper Courtney McKimmey combined on nine other shutouts during the season, setting Douglas’ final total at a state-record 16 for the season (the previous best had been 13 held by three schools, including Douglas in 2009).

Randall received a big boost from the starting defensive line of Erica Macias, Lacey Marsh, Shannon Prinz and Holly Downer. Downer and Dry interchanged between offense and defense several times while Cora Moody, Vega, Kelsey Mehrer, Sierra Bertolone-Smith, Natalie Freitas, Aspen Abbott and Cara Dunkelman and Ali Chambon were all instrumental in controlling the middle.