Cedar’s offense took care of business in the first half of Thursday’s match against Pine View and the defenses fought it out the rest of the way as the Lady Reds overcame an early deficit to end the regular season with a 2-1 victory.
Nicole Jenkins scored both of Cedar’s goals in the opening frame to help her team secure the second-place region finish and move into the postseason with a necessary win.
“We calmed down a little bit,” Jenkins said of the factors that led to Cedar overcoming an early 1-0 deficit. “We struggle to start our games with intensity, but as the game goes on we get better.”
The chronic slow starts over the last few weeks of the season put an end to what was shaping up to be a region championship for the Reds, who started the year with an 8-2 record.
A seven-game winning streak that led to a 4-0 region start fizzled and Cedar split its final six region 9 matches, conceding the crown to Desert Hills with a loss on Tuesday.
“I think we started getting a little overconfident and being lax in our practices,” Jenkins said. “It carried over into our games.”
But a win is still a win and Cedar will begin its state title defense at home next Wednesday against a yet unknown opponent.
It was the opportunity to start the postseason at home that seemed to motivate the Reds on Thursday as a loss would have sent them on the road in the event of a Snow Canyon win tonight.
“There was a little bit of feistiness out there knowing it was the last game,” head coach Scott Kamachi said. “We wanted to take care of ourselves and not have to rely on anybody
Lest anyone think the Reds are limping into the playoffs, a look at what they bring to the table may be in order.
Jenkins has scored 19 goals this season and leads an offense that is quite adept at limiting the opposition’s scoring opportunities by monopolizing possession of the ball.
The defense is just as strong behind a solid back line and keeper Megan Giddings, who registered five shutouts this year and kept Pine View off the board in the second half on Thursday.
After Aubrey Day gave Pine View a 1-0 lead on a penalty kick in minute 12, Pine View’s offense struggled to find the net.
Jenkins tied it at 1-1 on a goal with 18 minutes left in the half, then put Cedar up for good nine minutes later.
Neither offense would score again as they muddled through the second half without either gaining any momentum.
Despite a 3-3 record to finish the season, Kamachi is only worried about one thing, and history is not it.
“We lost three region games, but I don’t care about that,” Kamachi said. “It’s in the past. No one cares about the rankings in the middle of the season, I only care about them at the end. The most important ranking is the one at the end of the season.”