February 10, 2005
The Chaparral girls soccer team had not been used to losing. After capturing their third state championship in seven seasons a year ago, the second-ranked Firebirds looked as strong as ever in 2004-05.
The team had not lost to an opponent in its own conference all season, with its only two regular season defeats coming at the hands of 5A powerhouses Phoenix Xavier and Corona del Sol.
But Chaparral (20-3) had not faced a 4A team like Tucson Catalina Foothills, and quickly found out why the Falcons were the only team ranked ahead of them during a 2-0 loss in the 4A girls soccer state semifinals Wednesday at Tempe Sports Complex.
Catalina Foothills (23-1-1) will now go on to face Flagstaff in the title game on Saturday.
"They were better than Corona, and they were better than Xavier," said Chaparral striker Lauren Shapiro, who ended a storied career as a Firebird and will play next season at Stanford. "This is definitely a hard way to end it. I really would have liked closure and to have won another championship, but I think just getting this far was an accomplishment."
After the game, both Shapiro and Chaparral coach Robyn Carlson said they believed the top two teams in 4A had just met on the field.
"I feel it was a state championship game," Carlson said. "I’m really proud of the girls. We just came up a little short."
While the final score may not indicate it, the Firebirds generated just as many, if not more, scoring chances than Catalina Foothills, particularly in the first half.
But Jessica Walton had a career night in goal for the Falcons.
The sophomore was not even scheduled to play, but replaced starter Mara Weisband, who aggravated a shoulder injury in warm-ups.
Chaparral controlled the ball the initial 10 minutes of the game, which was played on the Falcons’ half of the field.
Catalina Foothills then found the net on its first scoring opportunity when Jenna Meredith popped in the ball amid a crowd of bodies following a long kick from the corner.
"Some people started hanging their heads for a little bit, which we shouldn’t have done," Shapiro said. "They just capitalized on their chances and we couldn’t."
The momentum shift was apparent during the next 20 minutes until the Firebirds had their best scoring opportunity of the game late in the first half when Shapiro broke away from her defender and fired a booming shot that Walton dove to deflect with her fingertips.
The rebound fell to Chaparral’s Allison Roth for what looked like an easy tap-in, but Walton jumped to her feet to knock the ball over the goal.
"Those saves really kept us in the game at that point," Catalina Foothills coach Charlie Kendrick said. "We knew it would be a difficult game, and we feel lucky to win."
Catalina Foothills scored its second goal just minutes into the second half when Lee Ann Felder scored on a rebound after an initial shot by Sam
Monahan hit the crossbar.
Chaparral never found the explosiveness it displayed in the first half.