A defensive battle, two overtime periods and a shootout: Tuesday’s Southern Section 4-A girls’ soccer semifinal between Esperanza and Simi Valley high schools went about as Esperanza Coach John Coppage had expected.
But not as he had hoped.
After a 1-1 regulation score, a scoreless 20-minute overtime, and a scoreless 20-minute sudden-death period, top-seeded Esperanza fell to fifth-seeded Simi Valley on penalty kicks, 4-3.
“We’ve done pitifully in shootouts this year,” Coppage said. “That’s what we didn’t want to see it come down to. . . . But hey, at least we’re still undefeated.”
True. According to Southern Section rules, teams that lose in penalty-kick situations accrue a tie on their overall record. Teams that advance on penalty kicks receive a victory.
Simi Valley (24-2-2) advances to Friday’s 4-A final at Gahr High School in Cerritos against second-seeded Capistrano Valley. Esperanza finishes 24-0-3.
After gaining a 4-3 lead in the shootout, Simi Valley needed only one more shot or an Esperanza miss for the victory. So when Lynn Murray, Esperanza’s scoring leader, walked up to take her shot, Aztec fans were confident. But Murray’s shot was high, and Simi Valley had the victory.
Through much of the first half, Esperanza played like a team that had lost its way. The Aztecs, generally an excellent ballhandling team, seemed to be having troubles just dribbling the ball. And for a team that’s known for a tenacious defense, Esperanza had great difficulty keeping Simi Valley out of scoring range.
At the 29-minute mark, Esperanza took a 1-0 lead when Leigh Ann Murphy scored off a corner kick by Chrissy Coppage.
In the second half, Esperanza found its game with accurate passing.
But, with 45 seconds remaining, Simi Valley’s Kim Taketa drilled a shot that bounced off an Esperanza defender and into the net, sending the game into overtime.