Fifth seed Phoenix Desert Vista gave No. 9 Tempe Corona del Sol few chances Wednesday night.
The Thunder seized control of the semifinal with two goals in three minutes in the second half, advancing to the 6A Conference girls soccer final with a 2-0 victory at Gilbert Campo Verde.
Junior midfielder Corey Zaremba keyed the win with a corner kick that found the net with some help from goalkeeper Jordan Freese, who got tangled up in the box with Desert Vista’s Isabella Glavin with about 30 minutes to play.
Less than three minutes later, Zaremba broke free and kicked the ball past Freese in the box to make it 2-0.
“You can see the damage she can do,” Desert Vista coach Marvin Hypolite said of Zaremba. “She is an amazing talent. It’s speed, skills, smarts everything. An amazing talent.”
It was the fifth consecutive shutout by Desert Vista (22-3-1), which will try to defend its championship on Saturday at 2:30 against No. 2 Phoenix Xavier Prep, a 2-0 winner or No. 6 Gilbert Perry.
Senior Quiqui Hita blasted a shot past the goalie four minutes into Xavier’s semifinal match. Xavier (14-1-3) added an insurance goal in the second half from sophomore Kyla Ferry to get to its first state final in four years. Xavier’s last title came in 2013. It is seeking its eight state soccer championship.
Desert Vista, which is making its eighth state final appearance. had more chances than Corona del Sol (17-7) in a scoreless first half, especially in the final four minutes.
Lauren Schooler’s shot went over the net with four minutes left, and, as the seconds were ticking down, Caroline Bych had just the goalkeeper in front of her from about 25 yards out. But her shot sailed high as the half expired.
“At halftime, we were saying, ‘We’ve got to pick it up,’ ” Zaremba said. “When we came out, it was a little rough at first. But once we got that goal, everybody tasted it and wanted it.”
Corona del Sol’s last loss came on Jan. 24, against Desert Vista, 1-0.
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Corona del Sol coach Matt Smith felt there might have been contact in the box on the corner kick that resulted in Desert Vista’s first goal.
“But that was a judgment call,” Smith said. “He probably let them play a little more than my preference. But he called a good game.”
Corona del Sol upset top-seed Chandler Hamilton 2-1 in the quarterfinals.
Smith’s team just happened to run into a determined, experienced team that knows what it takes to close out big games after winning it all last year.
Hypolite has three goalkeepers he can use. On Wednesday, senior Kamrie Gunderson started and junior Amanda Green finished.
“We have three of the best keepers,” Hypolite said. “It’s a tough go for me, but they will do anything for the team.”
After a scoreless first half, No. 2 Phoenix Thunderbird (15-1-2) scored a goal and held on for a 1-0 victory over No. 3 Prescott (15-5-2) to advance to Saturday’s 2 p.m. championship against No. 4 Tucson Salpointe (17-3-2), which stunned No. 1 Flagstaff (12-1) on penalty kicks after the game ended in a 0-0 tie. With nobody scoring in two 10-minute overtimes, the game went into PKs. Salpointe made all four of its penalty kicks. Flagstaff made just one.
The state final will be played at Gilbert Williams Field.
Suggest human interest stories to Richard Obert at email@example.com or 602-316-8827. Follow him at azc_obert.