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Prep Girls Soccer Playoffs: Diamondbacks fall in penalty kicks
PHELAN • After 100 minutes of physical, borderline brutal play and with temperatures hovering near freezing, Thursday night’s CIF-Southern Section Division 4 second round match was simply going to come down to who blinked first.
Unfortunately for the Serrano faithful, it was the Diamondbacks who came up short in the battle of attrition.
After a scoreless battle in regulation and two overtimes, Quartz Hill outlasted Serrano 6-5 in penalty kicks to end the D’backs’ season.
“Heck of a game,” Serrano co-coach Dave Molina said somberly. “They’re very good, they’re very fast and they had their chances and we had ours. I’m not sure I have the words. I thought it was pretty even up and down, back and forth. Both teams played hard.”
Bodies collided from the opening minute to the final one, and both teams had multiple chances that came painfully close to finding the net.
Quartz Hill (22-2-2) entered the day averaging more than five goals per game, but Serrano (23-4-3) goalkeeper Janelle Flores did a masterful job of shutting out the Rebels in regulation. She made 15 saves and was only the second keeper to shut out the Rebels all season.
“Janelle was outstanding. She’s the best keeper we’ve ever had and she’s the best keeper for many miles around us,” Molina said. “She keeps us in games like this. She’s just outstanding. She’s just got a read and her reactions and her hands are phenomenal.”
Flores’ finest moment came with mere seconds remaining in double overtime. Rebels forward Crystal Crump drew a foul inside the box and Quartz Hill was awarded a penalty kick, a call that sent the Serrano coaching staff into hysterics.
Rebels forward Kristen Osuna, who scored 54 goals in 25 games this season, took the kick. Flores guessed correctly and made a full-extension dive to her left to deny Osuna the golden goal and send the game to PKs.
“Our goalkeeper is amazing,” D’backs captain Jen Russell said. “She saved our butt so many times. I mean five seconds left on a PK to get us to PKs, that’s insane. ... She’s the best goalkeeper I’ve ever seen.”
Just as the game had been neck-and-neck, the penalty kick session was as well.
Kellsie Gleason, Kallie Lynch and Lacey Slocumb converted for the D’backs on their first three attempts, while Gennifer Sibbald, Crump, and Elise Wassner converted on Quartz Hills first three.
Saida Aparicio hit the right post on Serrano’s next attempt, but the Rebels’ Natalie Castillo followed by sending her shot wide right to keep it tied at 3.
Gina Slocumb and Morgan Kawakami scored on the Diamondbacks’ next two attempts, while Osuna and Alexa Adams converted for Quartz Hill to tie it at five.
Then came the difference. Serrano’s McKenna Gleason’s shot intended for the lower left corner was saved by Rebels keeper MacKinzie Galick.
With the opportunity to win it, Stephanie Garcia booted the next shot into the upper right corner of the net to send Quartz Hill to the quarterfinals.
“This was a very solid match, two very solid teams battling it out. I’m just very proud of my girls,” Rebels coach Charles Gordon said. “The game was extremely physical. A good analogy would be to compare it to a hockey game. ... (Before PKs I told my team) to just to relax and do it like we do in practice and they came out and were real calm on ball and finished very well.”
As the tears flowed from the Serrano sideline, a calm Russell consoled her teammates and told them how proud she was of them. She had a message of solidarity and love for her team after the final game of the defensive stalwart’s decorated career.
“We’re family no matter what,” she said. “At the end of the day we win or lose as a family. We just got unlucky. We deserved it. I think every girl on this team worked hard enough to win.”
Kyle Glaser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (760) 951-6274.