It’s time to reap the benefits of all the hours in the weight room and on the practice field for the area’s fall high school athletes as regional play wraps up for most sports and state tournaments begin.
With most first-round state soccer matches taking place Tuesday, Mid-Columbia Conference standouts Hanford, Southridge and Chiawana — as well as SCAC champion Kiona-Benton — are looking forward to competing against Washington’s best.
Here’s a look at the soccer matchups in the area, as well as information about final crossover games for football and volleyball:
HANFORD: With the best keeper in the MCC — and possibly one of the best in the state — the Falcons fought through a predictably gritty path in the regional tournament to advance to state for the first time since 2010.
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MCC Player of the Year Kelsee Winston recorded two clean sheets in Hanford’s three regional games and had four combined saves in the team’s two shootout victories. The senior who has verbally committed to Eastern Washington University has allowed just 10 goals this season (.58 goals against average).
On the offensive end, junior midfielder Dani Mendoza is having a stellar postseason for Hanford (17-3). She scored two goals a 3-2 victory over Central Valley and converted the eventual game-winning shootout penalty kick Thursday against Chiawana.
Hanford will host Kennedy Catholic (8-3-7) in a Class 4A game at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
SOUTHRIDGE: Trying to advance to the 3A state championship for the third consecutive season, the Suns (18-2) have been on the warpath since a late-season loss to co-MCC champion Hanford.
Southridge gave up one goal in its three regional matches, and has only allowed two goals in six games since losing to the Falcons on Oct. 11. The Suns have scored 31 times in that stretch.
First team All-MCC forward McKaley Goffard has recorded 10 goals and nine assists this season, and fellow all-conference forwards Morgan Nelson (13 goals, three assists) and Kayleen Sambrano (12 goals, three assists) have been stellar as well.
Southridge hosts Mountain View (9-6-3) at 6 p.m.
CHIAWANA: The Riverhawks (11-6) bounced back from their shootout loss against Hanford last week in the 4A regional championship to knock off Gonzaga Prep two days later to advance to the state tournament.
“Bouncing back after the heart-breaking loss at Hanford shows that we are tough-minded and resilient for such a young team,” said coach Rich Zoller, who starts four freshman and four sophomores.
While junior forward Summer Yates has been the star of the team all season (seven goals in four regional games), it was the Riverhawks defense that got them into the state tournament, as their regionals foes scored only one goal against them — Gonzaga Prep’s score on Saturday was an own goal — and freshman keeper Alisha Ramos made some critical saves.
Chiawana hosts Sumner (10-5-1) at 6 p.m.
KIONA-BENTON: The Bears (17-1) had three consecutive one-goal victories in the district tournament, including a 2-1 overtime win over SCAC West champion La Salle in the district championship, to earn their spot in the state tournament.
They will host Seattle Academy (13-3-1) at 4 p.m.
In CWAC-Great Northern League crossover play, Othello will host West Valley (Spokane) and Prosser will visit Pullman. Both games are loser-out, winner-to-state and start at 6 p.m.
Kamiakin will travel to play Eastside Catholic in a winner-to-state game at 5 p.m.