Everything was in place.
The Gilbert Campo Verde girls soccer team knew the state championship match was again going to be held on its home field. And its players knew they had the talent to make it there.
And they will courtesy of a strong effort in a 1-0 win over top-seeded Goodyear Verrado in a Division III tournament semifinal match Tuesday night at Phoenix Arcadia High. Campo Verde, the fourth seed, will host third-seeded Cottonwood Mingus on Friday in the championship match.
“My girls have known that since the get-go, that was aways in the back of our mind,” Campo Verde coach Rosie Headley said. “We knew we would have had an advantage on our home turf.”
Campo Verde won the way it knew how. Pressure on offense. And more pressure on defense.
“I told my girls that they (Verrado) hasn’t seen too much of that,” Headley said. “They’re very well-coached but when we pressure them, it’s something they’re not used to. They were going to make a mistake and we capitalized on their mistakes.”
Campo Verde scored in the 37th minute when Meg McDowell’s flip throw-in deflected off of Breanna Olsen and right to Shannon Costello, who one-timed the ball into the roof of the net from 11 yards out.
On defense, Headley had her players bracket sophomore Sierra Smith, the most skilled player on the field for Verrado, and had Taylor Frick mark Kaitlyn May. Verrado had been playing without its two best players and top goal scorers — Alyssa Emig and Adrianna Orozco — due to injuries since the middle of the season. Combine that with Campo Verde’s defensive effort and Verrado wasn’t allowed to play its possession game.
Verrado had just two clear chances. In the eighth minute, Taylor DeSanti’s 18-yard turn and shot just went wide. The best opportunity came in the 64th when Stephanie Miller’s half-volley from 29 yards out targeted the top right corner of the goal. But Campo Verde goalkeeper Britney Cantino dove and got her right palm on the shot to deflect it.
“Just a little bit more pace and it would’ve went in,” Verrado coach David Hopkinson said. “But the goalkeeper made a great save.”