For more than 50 minutes there was more than a little nervousness in the stands and on the field for No. 3-seeded Highland in its Division I girls soccer first-round match.
The defending Division I state champions couldn’t quite finish their usually successful set piece game until the final 30 minutes before connecting three times in eliminating No. 14 Mountain View, 4-1, on Tuesday to set up a quarterfinal meeting on Saturday at home against No. 6 Anthem Boulder Creek.
Boulder Creek was a 7-0 winner over Surprise Willow Canyon during Tuesday's first round.
“It was nerve-wracking, I had butterflies, I think we all had butterflies the whole day,” said Highland's Lindy Snyder, whose first goal of the season couldn’t have come at a better time.
Highland (20-2-2) settled down enough to dominate possession in the second half and get several chances for prolific scorer Ashley Hatch, who ended up with a hat trick on Tuesday.
“We woke up a little bit, should have come out harder,” Hatch said. “In the second half, we said, ‘Hey, we have to pick it up,’ so we picked it up.”
“I thought we responded well after a 50-50 first half,” said Highland coach John Berzins. “Our style of play, our game plan is to create those opportunities wide and get around the corner. The girls responded extremely well. Our senior leadership really stepped it up.”
The usual M.O. for Highland is for Jaden DeGracie to get the ball to Hatch. DeGracie has a powerful flip throw-in and a strong leg for free kicks and corners.
That worked to near perfection when DeGracie used her flip throw-in and the rebound found Snyder in front of the goal and she knocked it in. That broke a 1-1 tie in the 54th minute and set the tone.
“It was exciting, it was a good goal but I’m more happy for my team that we made it,” Snyder said.
Mountain View coach Brian Ronan knew just watch to expect from the high-powered Hawks.
“We knew that going in, that we had to battle,” he said. “We did it for the whole first half, did it for most of the second half. But when it’s that much pressure, they turned it on.”
Less than 20 minutes from the end, DeGracie had a flip throw-in that was cleared over the line and Gracie took the corner. From the right side, her kick found Hatch in the box and she headed it in for her 41st goal of the season. DeGracie and Hatch hooked up again in the 76th minute for good measure on a free kick pass that Hatch put just beyond the line for the final margin.
Highland started right when Brena Jarvis headed the ball just past a defender so she could pass it to Hatch streaking up the right wing. The BYU-bound senior nailed it into the far corner from 12 yards away in the 18th minute.
Mountain View (11-6) kept hounding Hatch much of the night, particularly on the set pieces and tried to press the ball into Highland’s end. The Toros found some success early, and, in the final minute of the half, caught a break.
Maya Salas sent the ball in and Hawks’ goalkeeper Ashley March missed it. Highland defender Rachel Woods was on the line to stop it, but her attempt to clear went off Reilly Anderson and into the goal just 47 seconds before halftime.