No. 6 Higley beat No. 11 Douglas, 3-1, in the first round of the Division III girls soccer state tournament at Campo Verde High School on Wednesday.
Higley will play at No. 3 Verrado on Saturday at 2 p.m. in the second round.
It didn't begin so rosy for Higley. The first half was a possession battle and Douglas had the upper hand for a majority of the half. With about 15 minutes left in the opening half the Bulldogs got back-to-back scoring chances, but Knights goalie Madison Harrison made a couple of nice saves and the game went into halftime scoreless.
After a stern halftime speech by Higley coach Jessica Campbell, the Knights (17-2) found their way in the second half.
Just seven minutes into the half, Coretta Nolan scored the game's opening goal in the middle of a congested area just in front of the goal.
"We had a nice little talk at halftime and we picked it up and played the way we are capable of playing." Campbell said.
With 14 minutes remaining in the game Lauren Taylor scored off a rebound, also right in front of the goal, for a 2-0 Higley lead. Just three minutes later Douglas got on the scoreboard with a goal by Kim Cormier off a free kick to make the score 2-1.
"We were not sure what to expect from this team," Campbell said. "They came out hard and we came out a little soft, but it was a well-fought game. It was a scramble for us on defense trying to find out how they play. But as a team we played great in the second half."
With 4:57 remaining in the match, Danielle Nelson sealed the win for the Knights. Nelson headed the ball up field to herself and raced ahead of the defense to get a nice open look at the goal. Nelson booted the ball in to the corner of the net and Higley into the second round of the playoffs.
For Douglas it was almost a five hour drive into Gilbert the night before, and Angelica Chavez was a little disappointed in her team.
"We fell apart there a little bit, It was a long trip and sometimes that is just how it goes," she said. "Sometimes you're on and sometimes you're not. I had little higher expectations for how they would play but that's just how it goes. The girls were a little off tonight."