By GANNON HANEVOLD
Moapa Valley Progress
Going into last week, three teams remained contending for the top seed in the Division 3A Sunrise league in girls soccer. Those were the defending champion SECTA Roadrunners, league newcomer Sky Pointe, and the Pirates of Moapa Valley. The Pirates had never once in history grabbed the top seed. But the MVHS team looked to make history, with two home games left on the schedule against none other than the Roadrunners and Eagles.
The first game came Tuesday against Sky Pointe. Early in the game, the Eagles shocked the Pirates on their home field, scoring a goal in just the first few minutes off of a corner kick.
But later in the first half, Christie Eriksen tied it up with a goal on a penalty shot, following a foul on Sky Pointe in the right side of the box. The score would remain 1-1 at the half.
In the second half, Moapa Valley took the top off, bringing out their offense in full display. Lexi Schraft gave the Pirates a goal in the second to make the score 2-1. Then Christie Eriksen followed it up with a goal of her own to extend the lead even further. Just when it seemed like the Pirates could be comfortable, Eriksen scored once more off an assist by Sierra Staheli. One more goal from Schraft made the final score 5-1, leaving Moapa’s fans and players ecstatic.
“It was beautiful!” said MVHS head coach Lisa Cornwall. “It’s a perfect situation as a coach to see your team come out and really play together and not just beat a team, but really beat them pretty good.”
The second game of the week came on Wednesday. And it was set to be just as intense. The Pirates hosted SECTA, a team that Moapa hadn’t beaten before. The Roadrunners held the defending regional title. This was the one game for the top seed in the division for 2017.
It didn’t take long for Moapa to take the lead. Kilee Fisher scored to make the score 1-0 just minutes in. The score would remain the same at the half, thanks to various saves from Jessica Leon, some seemingly miraculous.
In the second half, junior Italia Bracamontes scored to give the Pirates insurance and give her team a 2-0 lead.
The Moapa defense continued to stand tall. Eventually the Pirate offense broke through once again. Mariah Mendoza scored on a follow up after a save by the SECTA goalkeeper. The final score would remain 3-0.
For the first time in team history, Moapa Valley was the top seed in their division.
“To shut them out and not even let them score a goal was incredible,” Cornwall said. “We’ve never even beat them. For the girls, they’re telling themselves that they’re really here to play.”
While Christie Eriksen has been the Pirates’ leading scorer this season, it would be three other players that would score in the biggest game of the year.
“If you play a good team, they’ll cover your player that likes to shoot,” Cornwall said. “So sometimes it has to come from different places.”
Cornwall emphasized the excitement from the team following the win as well. “They’re riding a high right now,” she said. “We always set a goal at the beginning of the year, and that was their goal was to take first in league. It’s just phenomenal to be a part of a bunch of girls that really put forth a goal and executed a plan and went for it.”
The Pirates will take on Cheyenne in their first playoff game on the road to a potential berth in the state tournament. Cheyenne defeated the Pirates in the regional playoffs by a score of 2-0 last season, so vengeance is in the back of Moapa Valley’s mind.
Coach Cornwall described the importance of taking it one game at a time. “We take every opponent as if it is the game of the century,” she said. “Until we get to the next game, and then that one is. All we’re talking about right now is Cheyenne.”
With more community support than the team has perhaps ever seen behind them, this year’s group of players has a special feeling to it, and they’re confident their journey will not be cut short just yet.