A fluky goal and a couple of long shots put Arcadia in a hole 20 minutes into its Division II girls soccer state tournament semifinal, moreso against a perennial Southern Arizona powerhouse.
The 10th-seeded Titans did get one back but it wasn't enough in a 3-1 loss to No. 3 Tucson Catalina Foothills on Thursday at Paradise Valley High School.
Catalina Foothills (13-2) will face top-seeded Cactus Shadows, a 3-0 winner over Glendale Raymond Kellis in the other semifinal, at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday at Campo Verde H.S. in the Division II state title match. Catalina Foothills has won back-to-back 4A-I state championships and four of the last six.
"At half, our coaches kept trying to tell us that if they could score three in a half, why can't we?" Arcadia captain Tianna Stewart said. "We fought, it was a good game and I hope the Titans are proud of themselves."
Unfortunately, once Catalina Foothills was up by three in the first 20 minutes, they could afford to sit back and play ball control. In the second half, Arcadia stepped up the pressure and scored in the 57th minute, and earned a couple of late chances, but Catalina Foothills held on.
"You give a great team a three-goal lead it doesn't matter how hard you fight in the second half it's going to be tough to come back," Arcadia coach Daniel Polan said. "I give our girls credit for fighting for 40 minutes we didn't allow them to play their possession game. We tried as hard as we could to even it up."
The tone was set in the fifth minute when Foothills got on the board with a penalty kick. An Arcadia player, apparently thinking that the referee was calling offside on Foothills, picked up the ball for a reset and was whistled for a hand-ball in the goal box. Mandy Horrigan scored on the PK.
Polan said that the linesman put up his flag to indicate offside and by the time he looked back up, Foothills was lining up the penalty kick.
Foothills took control in the 15th minute when Savanna Schmidt scored the first of two long range goals in a five-minute stretch.
"I think what kept us going too was no one expected Arcadia to get this far," Stewart said. "All these articles are about (Foothills) and how great they are and won state so many years, everybody kind of passed by Arcadia. I think that made us want to keep going and show them that we were going to fight and you can't take this from us you are going to have to work for it."
Schmidt fired her first shot from about 12 yards out past Arcadia sophomore goalkeeper Abby Schneider when she got an opening as the Falcons tried to develop a play. In the 20th minute, Schmidt had the ball on the sideline and looked to pass the ball into the goal box from about 25 yards out - but that one bounced over Schneider and gave Foothills a 3-0 lead.
Foothills played conservatively and held off Arcadia for the rest of the half. Arcadia rebounded a bit in the second half but didn't get any quality chances until the last 25 minutes.
The Titans finally broke through in the 57th minute, when Stewart caught Foothills goalkeeper Laura DeMers out of a position for a short shot that cut the lead.
"Our team was so urgent to score and I just saw the ball bouncing and I thought, ‘This is it, we have to get it in," Stewart said. "I hit it as hard as I could, hoping that could change the momentum and really get us going and it did. We held them for 60 minutes."
Outside of the goal, one of the few times DeMers felt the pressure was when Arcadia's Missy Dominick used a big flip throw-in in the 47th minute, getting the ball to Sofie DeWulf, who shot high. A couple of minutes later, Arcadia hit the crossbar after Rachel DiTullio's corner richoeted in front of DeMers.
Cactus Shadows 3, Raymond Kellis 0
Sabrina Majerczyk scored twice and Jessica Luhrs had another - all in the second-half -- to lift the No. 1-seeded Falcons (14-1) into its first state title match in school history.
The Falcons reached the finals after losing in the 4A-I semifinals the last two seasons.
"We want to make history for our school this year," Majerczyk said. "So we are hoping to take it."
Luhrs scored on a header off a corner kick by Kelli Reid in the 49th minute and then Majerczyk, who created several chances going up the right sideline throughout the match, scored from short range in the 58th minute for the Falcons off a pass from freshman Alexa Yardley.
In the 73rd minute, Anika Brock assisted on a second Majerczyk header.
Cactus Shadows controlled possession for much of the second half and nearly had a third goal when Brenna Leech hit the right post from long range.
The Falcons have not given up a goal in the state tournament, having outscored their opponents 10-0 in the three games.
Cactus Shadows lost to Catalina Foothills in the 4A-I semis last season.