Hemet Girl's Soccer barely survives Tiger attack - HEMET 2, SOUTH PASADENA 1



HEMET — The second half began with the Hemet High girls soccer team counting the minutes to its date in the Division 6 championship game. It ended with the Bulldogs counting their blessings.

After a half that turned into a desperate street fight, played almost entirely in front of the Hemet goal, the Bulldogs staggered to the finish line of a 2-1 victory Tuesday over South Pasadena. Hemet (23-2-2 and the top seed) will play Friday or Saturday for the title.

“When a team is hungry and they get that little taste of blood, it’s tough to stop them,” Hemet coach Craig Dwinnell said.

The Bulldogs seemed safe enough at halftime, sitting on a 2-0 lead, having survived a couple of communication errors in their own end. With Hemet having allowed just three goals in its previous 12 games, a two-goal deficit looked more than daunting for South Pasadena (17-3-6).

However, the Tigers came after Hemet with a fury in the second half. Kathryn Deichert knocked home a loose ball after a throw-in to the penalty area in the 51st minute and the Bulldogs spent the rest of the game fending off the onslaught.

The numbers: South Pasadena outshot Hemet 11-2 in the half and earned seven corners and a couple of dangerous free kicks. Sarai Esquivel made two saves and the Bulldogs blocked several shots in tight quarters.

Freshman Maddie Denbaugh had two of the biggest plays, a leg block from point blank and a chest block in open space.

“I’m just trying to watch the ball all the time while still marking my player,” Denbaugh said.

Said senior Rosie Robinson: “Maddie has done a beautiful job back there. Another freshman doing the job for us. It’s amazing for these freshmen to be able to hang in there at this level.”

Hemet grabbed the lead in the eighth minute when sophomore midfielder Tristan Self took a perfect long pass from Robinson and fired a shot from about 20 yards. South Pasadena keeper Angelique Ulmer appeared to get a piece of it but it snuck under the crossbar.

Krista Haddock made it 2-0 with a goal in the first minute of added time in the half, completing a dazzling run up the left side of the field. Haddock cut in, kept the defender behind her and beat Ulmer low on the left side of the net for her 30th goal.

It quickly changed from an insurance goal to the decisive score.

“I had multiple players say to me, ‘We’re halfway there’ or ‘We’re almost there,’ ” Robinson said. “I’ll tell you, that was the longest 45 minutes of my life.”
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