Any series worth its weight comes down to the rubber match.
Wednesday’s Division I girls soccer semifinal between Phoenix Xavier and Phoenix Pinnacle was no exception.
After the two teams faced each other twice early in the regular season — they split those games, both ending in 2-1 final scores — it was Xavier that won the third and most important matchup, 2-1, at Campo Verde High School in Gilbert.
With the win, Xavier advances to Saturday’s state title match against Phoenix Desert Vista. That match is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Campo Verde.
“This is a very hard journey,” Xavier coach Barbara Chura said. “I think the best four teams were definitely left. We’ve gone through a lot of adversity this year and we just keep coming back.
“We knew what (Pinnacle) was about. After two months down the road, both teams got better. We’re a much better team and a different team than we were before. And they are better now than they were when we played them the first time.”
Senior forward Michaela Dooley scored both Xavier goals — the first giving her team a 1-0 lead seven and a half minutes into the game, the second ultimately deciding the outcome with 27:36 left on the clock.
After being stymied offensively for most of the game, Pinnacle forward Ali Lixandru tied the game at 1 with 31:02 remaining in the game, before Dooley’s second finish capped the scoring.