Perry's girls soccer team continued a roll that began when the calendar flipped to 2014 with its 12th consecutive victory on Thursday night, pushing across the only goal in the 73rd minute to defeat No. 2 seed Boulder Creek, 1-0, in a Division I semifinal at Campo Verde High School.
Perry (14-5-2), the No. 3 seed, plays in its first ever girls soccer title game on Saturday (Feb. 15) at 3:30 p.m. at Campo Verde. Perry faces Pinnacle, a 2-0 winner over Xavier in the other semifinal, for the title. Perry has a chance to win the school's first state championship in any sport in that game .Perry's baseball team played for a crown in 2011 (5A-II), but finished runner-up to Chaparral. Boulder Creek (20-3-1) had a nine-game winning streak snapped with the loss, but enjoyed an outstanding season nonetheless.
"That was a battle," Perry coach Jason Dunn said. "We stuck to our game plan. Their defense is very good, and it was tough getting shots. But we got a couple chances, and had a senior step up and be a hero for us."
That senior was forward Bri Destefano. Destafano, one of six Perry players with at least five goals but no more than nine, took a cross from sophomore midfielder Gina Bracamonte and deposited it past Boulder Creek keeper Meghan Strang, who had no chance to stop it. Boulder Creek got off about twice as many shots in the second half as Perry, but none was the opportunity Kambree Meskill, Bracamonte and Destefano pieced together at crunch time.
"We've worked so hard and I'm so proud of everyone from our goalkeeper on down," Destefano said. ".....I knew Gina would get it to me. It was like we work on in practice. You have to make sure you finish when thos chances come. I'm the happiest girl in the world."
On the defensive end, Perry junior Emily Romer was tasked with marking Boulder Creek's 24-goal scorer Natalie Stephens, who found the back of the net four times in the Jaguars' quarterfinal win over Hamilton.
"I was focused on keeping her in front and not letting her turn," Romer said. "Keep her going backwards if possible."
Boulder Creek limited Perry to 10 shots for the match and only one in the first half on a set piece was close to a going in as Strang was able to bat away a deflection in the box.
PINNACLE 2, XAVIER 0: Jorian Baucom scored her 25th goal of the season in the 37th minute and top-seed Pinnacle (19-3-3) added a goal in the final seconds to cap a win over defending champ and No. 4 Xavier (14-6-2) in a D-I semifinal.
Pinnacle and Perry will meet on Saturday (Feb. 15) for the third time in the last year. Pinnacle eliminated Perry in the quarterfinals of last year's state playoffs (3-0). Pinnacle also defeated Perry in the Arizona Showcase in late December, 2-0.