Olivia Struckman has a knack for being in the right place at the right time for Scottsdale Chaparral’s soccer team.
Some of it is good fortune, but most of it is good sense, paying attention to where the ball and her opponents are, and where she needs to be.
It has happened many times for the Lady Firebirds this season, and happened again on Wednesday night (Feb. 5) when the fifth-seeded team opened play in the Division I state tournament.
As the ball bounced loose in front of the Goodyear Millennium goal, Struckman was there to boot the ball home with 31:56 left in the contest. The Chaparral defense toughened up and kept the Tigers off the board the rest of the way, including a few late-game pushes, good enough for a 1-0 victory in the first game of a double-header at Phoenix Xavier.
By defeating 12th-seeded Millennium, Chaparral advances to the quarterfinals on Saturday afternoon (Feb. 8) against the winner of Wednesday’s second game between Xavier and Phoenix Desert Vista. That was a rematch of last season’s D-I title game won by Xavier.
“We were very persistent, had a lot of opportunities in the second half. Fortunately, we were able to put one in,’’ said Chaparral coach Robyn Carlson. “The girls played well. They are a good team, and we picked up our intensity in the second half.’’
About a minute after Struckman’s goal, Chaparral nearly made it 2-0 but Millennium goalkeeper Ashley Price turned the Firebirds away. Aside from the one-goal hiccup, Price and the Tigers played a solid game.
Carlson said Struckman, a senior, “is awesome. She makes things happen and she is a leader.’’
The coach also was quick to give credit to her own defense and keeper Taylor Wolpe.
“Our defense doesn’t get a lot of attention, but we held our ground and were able to get the shutout,’’ Carlson said.