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Championship-bound

Only a second-half PK separates Sunset from Westview on Tuesday
by: Miles Vance GO FOR IT — Sunset senior Alicia Alarcon battles Westview’s Paige Laflamme and Sarah Jensen for the ball during the Apollos’ 1-0 win over the Wildcats in the Class 6A state semifinals at Sunset High School on Tuesday.

CEDAR MILL - It almost figured that Tuesday's Sunset-Westview girls soccer semifinal would come down to a penalty kick.

It was just a surprise that the winning PK came so early into the contest.

Sunset, hosting Westview in the Class 6A state semifinals at Sunset High School, got a penalty kick from senior midfielder Alicia Alarcon with 33 minutes, 54 seconds left in the second half, and that goal turned out to be the difference in the Apollos' 1-0 win.

Sunset, the Metro League runner-up, improved to 14-2-2 and advanced to the Class 6A state championship game against Pacific Conference champ Tualatin (18-0-0) at 6 p.m. Saturday at Hillsboro Stadium.

Tualatin beat South Salem 1-0 Tuesday to earn its spot in the finale.

'We just have to come out hard like we did today' to beat Tualatin, said Sunset senior defender Mary Grace Roselli, whose kick caused a handball that set up Alarcon's PK. 'We don't know anything about them so we'll try to win the first five minutes and keep playing throughout the whole game.'

'I think we just need to keep the ball on the ground, play our game and play with

our hearts,' said Alarcon, who also made a PK and scored twice in her team's quarterfinal win.

Westview, the No. 3 team from the Metro, finished its season at 13-3-2 after advancing at least as far as the state semifinals for the fourth straight season.

'It's hard, but … for me, this group of girls is more my family than I can say,' said Westview senior forward Jill Thomas. 'To come with them so far has been so great.'

'In one way, getting to the semifinals isn't that big a deal because we've done it the last four years,' added Westview senior defender Desiree Tyner. 'But I think we should be proud of how far we got because we came in with such a new team.'

Tuesday's game was a physical, back-and-forth battle between two teams that knew each other's strengths and weaknesses well after two regular-season meetings - a 1-1 tie and a 1-0 win by the Wildcats.

After a scoreless first half, Sunset got the game-winner just 7:06 into the second half. Roselli set the table for that goal when she took the ball into the right side of the Wildcat penalty box, then sent a hard kick off the hand of a Westview defender.

Alarcon then stepped up to take the penalty kick and drove it home past Wildcat keeper Kallina Haase to the left corner for a 1-0 lead.

'I was like 'Yeah. Alicia. Take the penalty kick,'' Roselli said.

'I tried to go up there with confidence and not to psych myself out,' Alarcon said. 'I knew if I did that, I'd get the best possible outcome.'

The Apollos had two other great chances to score too, with Alarcon sending a long kick off the crossbar from outside the Westview penalty box with 27:30 left to play, and Ashley Engesether hitting a long ball off the crossbar again with 24 minutes remaining.

Westview had its chances, but only a few of them, down the stretch, among them Jayden McMillan's miss from the left side with 15 minutes to go, and two corner kicks by McMillan inside the game's final 3:33.

'I know we didn't win,' Thomas said. 'It was a crappy goal, but we had heart until the end.'

To see a complete photo gallery from this game, please go to www.milesvance.exposuremanager.com.