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2B State Girls Soccer

2B State Girls Soccer: Penalties doom Toledo again, Riverhawks take fourth

SUMNER — For the second time in less than 20 hours, the penalty spot sent the Toledo girls soccer team only heartache, in a shootout loss to Highland in the 2B state third-place game, after the Riverhawks and Scots came away tied 1-1 after full time and extra time.

“Like I say every interview, I have 13, 14 girls that give me everything they have, game in and game out,” Toledo coach Noel Vazquez said. “Going to PKs, losing four games in PKs, it’s not a good taste in our mouths, but we gave ourselves a shot.”

After over 180 minutes of gametime and two shootouts in under a full day, the Riverhawks come away with fourth place in the state, their highest finish in school history.

“Even if it’s fourth-place, to me it’s the highest level we’ve ever accomplished,” Vazquez said. “It was a season of breaking records, and that means a lot to me.

“ I just want to have this trophy to come back to on the shelves at the high school, 10 years down the road when I have a kid, being able to walk into Toledo High School and dust it off and be like, ‘I was part of that program, I helped get us there,’ and be proud of that, and I hope the girls feel the same way as me.”

The two sides traded five perfect frames of PKs to start the shootout. Rose Dillon scored to lead off, then goalkeeper Daphnie Bybee came out to make her attempt. Marina Smith kept the shootout even with a make, and both Vanesa Rodriguez and Greenlee Clark both benefited from lucky bounces, placing shots that the Highland keeper got her hands to but could only deflect into the net.

But at the same time, the Scots were putting on a masterclass of their own from the spot. Bybee guessed the right direction on multiple shots, but each and every one went perfectly into the corner, just out of her reach. When Paige Hill’s attempt sailed wide and high, it sent Highland spilling out from the center circle in celebration, ending Toledo’s season in bittersweet heartbreak.

It was a tough way to end a season that saw the Riverhawks start out in a bad spot and grind for every single minute. Toledo played its first two matches with just 11 players and no subs, and while Vazquez got up to as many as 14 players suited up at one point, the extra wear and tear of playing so many minutes started to take hold at the end of the season, with nearly every player working on some sort of injury or another.

“It’s all about passion, love for each other, and commitment to the goal, and the goal was getting top-four,” Vazquez said. “We didn’t know if we were going to get first, second, third, or fourth. But at the end of the day, this is the first trophy we’ve gotten in school history that represents our program.”

After going without a goal in open play last night in the semifinals, Toledo came out on the back foot Saturday. Highland finally broke through in first-half stoppage time on a scramble in the box off a free kick — the last kick of the half before the referee blew for halftime.

Out of the break, the Riverhawks came out a changed team. Briza Gallegos took over the right wing in the second half, fizzing in a cross that just missed a finishing foot a minute in. From there, Toledo kept pressing, and Smith drew her side level with a free kick in the 43rd minute.

Toledo is set to graduate eight seniors: Smith, Gallegos, Dillon, Clark, Rodriguez, Jazzy Zarate, Heather Fenison, and Jenna Oberndorf. The Riverhawks will also have a new coach in charge next season, with Vazquez set to move on after seven seasons.

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