A postseason matchup pitting archrivals against each other delivered a physical and emotional contest at Lee Barnes Stadium on Thursday night as Mohave defeated the Lake Havasu girls’ soccer team 5-3 in a play-in round match.
The Thunderbirds made the most of their opportunities, converting a free kick and a penalty kick into scores to eliminate the Knights.
“Unfortunately, Mohave just edged out the win,” said head coach Josh Kistler. “We had some mistakes that they capitalized on and we capitalized on their mistakes, but they made fewer mistakes.”
In the teams’ previous two matches this season, which the teams split, a combined 12 goals were scored. Thursday night featured plenty of offense as well.
Mohave began the match with aggression on offense and took an early lead on a goal from Ashlyn Armijo.
Junior Kendra Park, the Knights’ leading scorer, tied the score on an impressive play where she stole the ball and sent a long shot into the corner of net, just past the keeper.
Armijo scored again just a few minutes later to give the lead back to the Thunderbirds.
But just as she did before, Park answered back with another goal in the 18th minute to tie it up.
In the 42nd minute, some controversy occurred.
Havasu was called for a yellow card in its own zone, Kistler then earned one of his own for jawing with the officials.
Julia Camacho took the free kick for Mohave and lofted a shot just over the outstretched arms of junior keeper Makenna McNay.
Trailing 3-2 at halftime, Lake Havasu scored just three minutes into the second half to even it up.
But seven minutes later, Mohave caught a break as the Knights were whistled for a hand ball inside the box. The Thunderbirds’ Skyler Foster converted the penalty kick to give Mohave the 4-3 lead.
Leanna Harms added a late insurance goal for the Thunderbirds to secure the victory.
“We’re going out on a high note,” said Kistler. “I couldn’t be more proud of the girls and the way they fought through this season.”
Next season, the Knights, who won their region for the second straight year, will return much of the talent from its roster and Kistler is expecting to make another postseason run.
“I’m already looking at next year, I haven’t even stepped off the field and I’m already thinking about next year.”