Let the upsets begin.
Ridgeline, the No. 4 seed out of Region 11, knocked off No. 1 Desert Hills with a 3-1 penalty shootout victory after both teams went scoreless through two overtimes.
Sophomore goalkeeper Makaylee Tenhoeve stopped three penalty shots and then kicked the game-winning goal to give the Riverhawks the upset in the opening round of the 3A Playoffs.
“We practiced penalties kicks all week and I knew where I was going to go with it,” Tenhoeve said. “As soon as the ball hit the back of the net I was in shock. It’s unbelievable and I’m so proud of my teammates.”
The win was extra special for the Riverhawks after falling 3-1 to the Thunder earlier this year.
“To come back and beat them after they beat us earlier this year makes it all worth it,” Tenhoeve added. “We’re part of a new school this year and it’s always tough starting out, but we did it and it’s awesome.”
With the top two regions paired up against each other this year, the first round of the 3A playoffs provided plenty of drama.
“Today felt like a semifinal game,” said Benji Nelson, Desert Hills head coach. “We knew we had to bring our ‘A’ game, and unfortunately we couldn’t cash in on our opportunities.”
The Thunder had plenty of opportunities to score Wednesday night, but just couldn’t finish.
For the game, The Thunder outshot the Riverhawks 38-3, but Tenhoeve was there every time to make the save.
“We had tons and tons of opportunities, but just couldn’t finish today. But that’s a credit to their keeper for coming up with big saves all game long,” Nelson said. “That’s what is tough about soccer because you can outplay teams, but if you don’t finish and they do, you’ll lose.”
Tenhoeve, credited her teammates focus for the hard fought win.
“This is a tough place to play. The crowd is loud and if you are not careful, you can get caught up in all the emotion,” the sophomore keeper said. “We were able to control our emotions and had that mentality that we were going to win this game and we did that.”
The Riverhawks best chance to score came in the game’s opening minutes after one of the forwards went around Desert Hills goalkeeper Brittney Moore and sent a low shot towards the goal. That’s when Morgan Myers made one of the plays of the game. The senior sprinted to the rescue as she cleared the ball off of the line to keep the game scoreless.
Desert Hills had several great chances as Brecklen Dalley and Kodee Bracken almost had a pair of goals to start the second half.
Dalley spun her defender around before unloading a shot to the bottom right corner which was pushed out by Tenhoeve for the diving save in the 43rd minute. A couple of minutes later, Kodee Bracken — who finished the season with a team-high 11 goals on the season — almost had her 12th as her shot from just outside the box hit the top of the crossbar.
Desert Hills will graduate eight seniors, but should still be in contention for another region title with a number of upcoming star players coming up through the program.
“We had a great senior class and we are really going to miss them There is no doubt about it,” said Nelson. “But we do return several starters and have a lot of talent coming up so I’m excited about what next year will bring.”