TUCSON — Soccer can be a cruel, unrewarding game.
So said Cactus Shadows girls soccer coach Jeff Vittorio following his team’s 3-0 loss to Tucson Catalina Foothills in the Class 4A-I girls soccer state semifinals Wednesday night.
Despite being able to control possession of the ball for most of the game, No. 4-seed Cactus Shadows (19-3-1) failed to convert on any of its scoring chances, while at the same time allowed defending-champion Foothills to capitalize on a few of its opportunities.
“This game is such where you can clearly possess the ball, and things just don’t go your way,” said Vittorio, whose team fell in the semifinals for the second straight year.
Top-seeded Foothills (21-3) looked sluggish for the first 30 minutes of the match, a fact coach Charlie Kendrick wholly attributed to Cactus Shadows’ performance. Even still, the game’s first real scoring opportunity went Foothills’ way in the 32nd minute when, off a direct kick from 40 yards out, senior Sheridan Cohen found a loose ball in front of her and dribbled it past Cactus Shadows goalie Kate Accola for a 1-0 lead.
Cactus Shadows remained in control of the ball for most of the second half, and appeared to have tied it up in the 65th minute when senior Lauren Lazo’s direct blast from near midfield sailed toward the right corner of the Foothills goal. But instead of going in, it ricocheted off the post, then deflected off Foothills keeper Kate Bradley and out of bounds.
The ensuing corner kick didn’t result in a score for Cactus Shadows, and less than three minutes later Foothills extended to a 2-0 lead when freshman AnnaMaria LaMantia got free in the middle of the field and blasted a goal from 15 yards out.
“That’s the hardest thing to defend in soccer, the transition game,” said Lazo, who missed a few minutes in the first half after twisting her knee on the artificial surface at Tucson High. “They won the ball and broke free. We’re disappointed, but we’re happy with the way we played, that’s for sure.”
Foothills then sealed the game in the 76th minute when freshman Aminah Settles scored on a breakaway.
“We just got a couple of lucky breaks our way,” said Foothills’ Kendrick, acknowledging Cactus Shadows was his team’s toughest 4A-I opponent this season. “They were really very strong. I think the score is a little unfair, it was a lot closer.”