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PANTHERS, ROYALS FEND OFF FOES TO ADVANCE TO FINALS

Both semifinal matches go to shootout

By Nick Akimoto

The 2023 IIAAG Girls Soccer Championship matchup is set. The Notre Dame Royals and Guam High Panthers will be facing off on Friday. 

The Royals and Panthers are the ones who are competing for the title, but both teams were extremely close to being eliminated during their semifinal matchups as both matches were decided through shootouts. 

The Royals managed to survive their shootout thanks to the heroic efforts of Faith Piper, who moved to keeper after ND’s starting goalie Arriah Arceo went down due to injury. Piper made crucial saves in the shootout and made her shot to help send the Royals to the title match. 

ROYALS VS EAGLES 

IN ‘FAITH’ ALONE 

The Royals came into their semifinal match with a fire due to their previous match to the Eagles ending in a loss. For much of the first half, ND held possession of the ball in their attacking half, applying a rush of pressure on Harvests’ defense. The Royals opening attack, however, struggled to produce a goal thanks to Eagles’ defender Caden Milner, who seemingly found her way in the path of every Royal shot attempt. 

Wendy’s Player of the Game: Faith Piper anchored the Royals defense, saving numerous goals and two penalty shots in an emergency role.

The Harvest defense received some relief, however, after an unfortunate injury caused the Royals to make an adjustment. 

Piper has been a crucial piece to the Royals attack the entire season, but after her teammate Arceo went down in the first half, Piper was called to make the transition to goalie to help keep the Eagle’s electric offense at bay. 

“We practice that all the time. We move all of our different strikers and wings around so that everyone knows their position; whether it’s their set position or if they’re needed to go to a different position.” 

– ND’s Maya Iriarte

With Piper moved to keeper, the Royals switched their focus to holding back the Eagles Olivia Haddock, who was the catalyst for much of Harvest’s attack. Haddock applied pressure on the Royals attack, but was met by Royals defender Ava San Nicolas, who was crucial to keeping the Eagles scoreless. Also playing a critical role in ND’s defense was Piper, who knocked away three Eagle shots from making it into the goal. 

SHOOTOUT

After regulation and extra time was called, the teams lined up for a shootout while Piper and the Eagles’ Gabi Moser took their place in front of the goal. 

Eagles’ Sophia San Augstin and Royals Anita Manglona both hit the back left corner of the net to open up the shootout 1-1. Milner lined up for the Eagles and aimed one over Piper’s head who jumped up to knock it down. Piper then took her turn at a shot and hit one in on the right side of the net to make it 2-1. 

The Eagles then sent out Haddock, whose shot bounced back off of post. After Kelsi Gumataotao blasted one past Moser, Piper once again blocked the Eagles’ shot to seal the match and ensure her team’s advancement to the championship. 

PANTHERS VS COUGARS 

DOWN TO THE WIRE 

The Academy Cougars and Guam High Panthers were both able to find the back of the net, so by the end of regulation, the teams were tied at 2-2. 

The top-ranked Panthers scored early Megan Franchino punched in the game’s first goal just five minutes into the match.

Academy’s Hinengi San Nicolas tied things up just 10 minutes later.

It was a stalemate the rest of the way as the Cougars matched the favored Panthers on both sides of the field. It was in extra time when Maria Paulino squeezed one in off a deflection from a San Nicolas shot in the 73rd minute.

Guam High avoided the upset when Nykale Penn dropped in the game-tying goal in the 79th minute, forcing the shootout.

The Panthers were able to get it done in the shootout, scoring four goals to Academy’s two and punching their ticket to the title game.

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COMING SOON …

4th Quarter Post Season

Boys Volleyball Champion v Champion on May 19

QUICK HITS

Bailey Concepcion makes it to the Seattle Seahawks dance team for the 2nd straight year.

Congratulations @seadancer_bailey
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The St. Paul Warriors are the 2024 IIAAG Boys Middle School Basketball League Champions! The Warriors defeated the 2nd seed Andersen Dragons 60-47 to cap off their undefeated season.
Mario Bork led the Warriors with 20 points in the championship game.

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