Parker goal lifts Foothills past Cactus Shadows

Parker goal lifts Foothills past Cactus Shadows

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Parker goal lifts Foothills past Cactus Shadows

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The Tucson Catalina Foothills and Cave Creek Cactus Shadows girls soccer teams have seen plenty of each other over the past few years.

Catalina Foothills, the three-time defending state champions, beat Cactus Shadows in the Class 4A Division I semifinals two seasons ago, and again in last year’s Division II championship.

It has become enough of a rivalry that even younger players such as Catalina Foothills sophomore forward Emily Parker know that “it’s always going to be a battle between these two teams.”

In Friday’s battle, Parker was the one that made sure her team came out on top again.

Her goal in the 16th minute of the second half propelled top-ranked Catalina Foothills to a 2-1 road victory over No.3 Cactus Shadows.

After receiving a beautiful lead pass from junior forward Aleah Strength, Parker found herself one-on-one with Cactus Shadows senior goalkeeper Cassie Miller along the right side. Parker’s low liner sailed just to the right of an outstretched Miller and found the net for what stood up as the game-winning goal.

“I know she’s an awesome keeper,” Parker said of Miller, “so I was like, ‘OK, I can’t go high. She’s covering the near post, so I’m just going to try and get it to the far post.’ And it worked. It went just far enough out of her reach.”

And with that, the game was just far enough out of Cactus Shadows’ reach. After Catalina Foothills (11-2-1) jumped to an early 1-0 lead on a goal from Strength in the 15th minute of the first half, Cactus Shadows sophomore forward Alexa Yardley found the equalizer with nine minutes to go in the half.

But after Parker’s goal, Catalina Foothills’ defense clamped down, as Cactus Shadows (5-3) could get just one shot on goal in the final 10 minutes — a free kick that was saved by junior keeper Jillian Dawley.

Catalina Foothills coach Charlie Kendrick said getting over some first-half jitters was key to his team’s success down the stretch.

“We don’t play well when we’re nervous,” Kendrick said. “They get themselves overly worked up or something in big games.

“But once we settle down we’re fine.”

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