Tucson Catalina Foothills forward Emily Parker had butterflies in her stomach on the entire two-hour bus ride to Phoenix on Friday.
The sophomore still gets nervous for big matches, and the semifinals of the Horizon Huskies Girls Soccer Tournament of Champions against Phoenix Xavier Prep was one of those.
But whatever nerves Parker felt before the match were hard to spot when she stepped on the field as the aggressive underclassman scored a pair of goals to help Catalina Foothills on its way to a 2-1 win over Xavier at Horizon on Friday.
Catalina Foothills will face Scottsdale Chaparral in the final round of tournament at Horizon at 6 p.m. Saturday. Chaparral defeated Cave Creek Cactus Shadows 4-1 in the earlier semifinal matchup on Friday.
Parker’s first goal came late in the first half and she scored again early in the second to give Catalina Foothills a comfortable 2-0 lead. Coach Charlie Kendrick said it’s her self-confidence that helps her penetrate even tough defenses like Xavier’s.
“She’s a handful,” he said. “She thinks she can score goals, and that’s part of the battle is thinking you can actually do it.”
Parker showed some of that determination on her second goal when she fought through two defenders in her quest to the net. Despite being heavily covered, Parker refused to back down.
“(The defenders) were sticking to their formation really good so I knew we may not get many chances,” she said. “I saw the keeper coming, and I knew I wouldn’t have time for another touch so I just shot it.”
Xavier answered with put-back goal by Michaela Dooley in the 10th minute of the second half to cut Catalina Foothills’ lead back to one but was unable to find the net again.
“Overall, in terms of territory and possession, we probably got out-played tonight, but we defended well enough to keep ourselves in it,” Kendrick said.