Kelsee Winston saved three shots in the shootout and recorded a clean sheet in regulation to lead the Hanford girls soccer team to a 1-0 win over visiting Chiawana on Thursday night in the Class 4A regional championship.
The victory secured Hanford its first state tournament berth since 2010.
“This group, they’re unbelievable, and it was their goal from the beginning to make a run at state,” Hanford coach Kaylie Winston said. “So for them to accomplish that, it’s been a long time coming.”
Kelsee Winston — the Mid-Columbia Conference Player of the Year — made the game-winning save against Alyssa Garcia and also stopped a shot from Summer Yates, regarded as one of the premier forwards in the nation. Even against a player of Yates’ caliber, Winston had a clear mind when the shot was struck.
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“Each time I go up, it’s just ‘I am making this one save,’ ” Winston said. “I’m not thinking that I’m making just this one save. I’m making this save for my team.”
Ellie Harlow, Anabel Lin and Taylor Matheny scored penalty kicks for the Falcons to force sudden death, and Dani Mendoza — Hanford’s sixth shooter — struck a confident shot to the left of Chiawana keeper Alisha Ramos that ended up being the decider.
Even though his Riverhawks fell to Hanford for the third time this season, coach Rich Zoller was pleased with his team’s effort, and thinks his players are poised to knock off Gonzaga Prep to earn the region’s final state berth.
“The girls played awesome tonight,” Zoller said. “We’re just going to do the same thing on Saturday, get the win and go to state.”
Chiawana will host the loser-out, winner-to-state match at 5 p.m. Saturday. The Riverhawks beat the Bullpups 5-0 in the opening round of regional play.
Regulation was defined by a series of missed opportunities for both teams.
In the first minute, Matheny caught up to a long pass in the attacking third and got Ramos in a one-on-one situation. Matheny beat Ramos with her shot, but couldn’t keep it inside the far post. In the 24th, Matheny put a corner kick into the box, and two Falcons got point-blank shots on goal, but Ramos turned them away.
Unsurprisingly, Yates provided most of the offense for the Riverhawks. In the 12th, she nabbed the rebound off a Kailey Leavens corner kick and fired a volley into what seemed like a wide open part of the net. But Winston dove to her right to deflect the shot to keep the game scoreless.
In the 65th, Chiawana freshman Ruthie Edrington ran the ball down the left wing and swung a cross that found Avery Bond’s forehead. But Winston was again in perfect position to make the save.
Shots: Hanford 19, Chiawana 16. Saves: Kelsee Winston 13 (3 saves in SO); Chiawana, Alisha Ramos 6 (1 in SO).