KENNEWICK -- Years from now, when Heather Johnson recalls scoring the 100th goal of her high school career, she'll remember many of the details that made the night special on a frigid November evening at Southridge High School.
The Suns' all-state senior forward will recall watching the ball come off her left foot and make the slow, excrutiating journey inside the right post. She'll remember Southridge coach Greg Sambrano calling for the ball before the ensuing kickoff, making sure to set it aside so she could cherish the memory later.
Mostly, Johnson will remember that her historic goal was critical to her team's latest triumph, a 4-3 win over University in the 3A Eastern Washington regional semifinals Wednesday.
"This was probably the hardest game we played all year," she said after the Suns twice erased one-goal deficits.
Ultimately, it was Hannah Sanders who provided the game-winner with nine minutes left in regulation. The sophomore midfielder stationed herself in front of the net for a crossing pass from Katherine Tsoukalas and, despite falling to the ground on the play, still managed to redirect it into the net for a 4-3 lead.
"The 100 goals is a special thing, but to be honest, everybody's glad it's done with," Suns coach Greg Sambrano said. "We knew it was going to happen, and it was nice to do it at home. But she's the kind of player who would rather see her team win above all."
Sanders' goal -- her eighth of the season -- was more evidence that the sophomore midfielder could be a force to be reckoned with next season.
"Hannah's been playing really well. The thing is she's playing behind a bunch of seniors, and she's been waiting for her moment to emerge," Sambrano said. "Next year, she could be a really good player to watch."
Southridge (17-0) will play host to CBBN 3A rival Kamiakin (14-4) for the Eastern Washington Regional championship at 1 p.m. Saturday. The winner will earn the No. 1 seed into the Class 3A state tournament. The loser gets the No. 2 seed.
"All week in practice, we've been working on finding the corners, and we continued doing that today," she said. "The pressure's off. People have been asking me, 'When are you going to score your 100th goal?' "
The people got their answer Wednesday.
But Johnson's milestone didn't come until the second half, after Rylee Rassier and Emma Kennedy scored just four minutes apart to give University a 3-2 lead with six minutes left before halftime.
Instead of railing at his team during the break, however, Sambrano encouraged his players. After all, this is the same group that trailed Hanford, Kamiakin and West Valley in league play and still remains unbeaten at 17-0.
"He knows we always come back. He's got a lot of confidence in us," Johnson said. "It was about picking up the pressure and playing every ball."
In the 55th minute, Hannah Sanders sent the ball up the left wing to Johnson, who dribbled just past the top of the box before firing across the goal to the far post. The ball beat Titans goalkeeper Shelby Rotchford, hit off the right post and bounced into the net.
University (8-6), which will travel to GSL rival Mt. Spokane (9-7) to decide the No. 3 regional seed, kept pushing back. The Titans appeared to take a 4-3 lead after Laura Seymour knocked the ball past Southridge keeper Ingrid Stein in the 58th minute following a scrum in front of the net.
However, the goal was disallowed when center referee John Braun conferred with his linesman and ruled a University player had touched the ball with her forearm before the goal.
"When you play away from home you don't always get the calls you want," said Titans coach Megan Poulson. "Things just fell their way, but my girls played their hearts out."
The Suns may not have been in the game, however, if not for Megan Foster, who responded with two quick goals just two minutes apart after Shayla Weiler gave University a 1-0 lead in the fifth minute.
"We were caught a little off guard. They were just so quick," said Foster, who now has eight goals. "I felt like I was in the right place at the right time. It's something we really work on
Scoring--1, U, Shayla Weiler (Lexi Clark), 5:00; 2, S, Michelle Foster (Katherine Tsoukalas), 9:00; 3, S, Foster (Emma Sanders), 11:00; 4, U, Rylee Rassier, 30:00; 5, U, Emma Kennedy, 34:00; 6, S, Heather Johnson (Hannah Sanders), 55:00; 7, S, H.Sanders (Tsoukalas), 71:00. Shots--U 15, S 22. Saves--U, Taylor Lang 3, Shelby Rotchford (25:00) 4. S, Ingrid Stein 5.