It was cold, balmy and windy, but the No. 4-seeded Flagstaff girls soccer team pulled through a late win in the first round of the 4A Conference state tournament Saturday afternoon at Flagstaff High School.
The Eagles were deadlocked with the 13th-seeded Estrella Foothills Wolves in a 0-0 draw for just over 60 minutes of game time. It wasn’t until 19 minutes left in the second half that the Eagles broke the tie.
Flagstaff’s Mya Zahn took a through ball into the deep-right corner of the box and quickly took a hit from an Estrella defender. Zahn stayed on the ground for a few minutes following the hit, but got up to take her penalty kick. Zahn took her time and placed her shot at the back-left of the goal, out of reach of Estrella’s goalkeeper and giving Flagstaff what ended as the go-ahead goal in a 1-0 round-one win.
“I just felt like I could do it and put it in the back of the net,” Zahn said. “It was such a great feeling once it went in.”
Zahn getting to her feet and nailing the penalty kick came as a bit of a surprise to Eagles head coach Holly Jones, who said she wasn’t really sure if Zahn would get up for the try.
“I didn’t think she was gonna jump up and take the PK but she said she was fine, so she earned it. I definitely like when players earn it and they get to take it when they are feeling confident,” Jones said.
Flagstaff advances to the quarterfinals and will host on Wednesday fifth-seeded Catalina Foothills, which beat No. 12 Glendale 6-1 on Saturday.
The Eagles had to gut out a physical win, but had their chances on goal throughout. Flagstaff easily outshot Estrella 17-5, with clean looks coming consistently in the box.
On multiple possessions the Eagles failed to capitalize off well-placed passes from corner kicks. Jones noticed the missed chances, as she has most of the season of opportunities that could have had a major impact on the game if just one or two had found the back of the net Saturday afternoon.
“That’s kinda been the thing,” Jones said. “We are going to work on it the next couple days. We have been getting plenty of opportunities, we just need to put them in the back of the net and that’s going to be our focus on Monday and Tuesday.”
Both teams played each other physically, but not overly chippy, with no yellow cards given to players -- just each team’s head coach. The extra physicality came partially because the teams already played each other this season -- a 2-0 win for the Eagles in Phoenix -- and that playoffs at times can get more physical.
“I definitely knew it was going to be physical and chippy,” Jones said. “We talked about it as a team and kinda knew what to expect. I think this was probably our best game stepping up our physicality and matching that. I felt like we played physical but clean, nothing dirty or anything.”
Wednesday’s game is tentatively set for 6 p.m., likely at Flagstaff High School but changes may be made.