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Leopards, Wildcats advance to championship

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East's Katie Reineke, left, is congratulated by Taylor Nicolaides after scoring a goal in East's 4-1 semifinal victory over Timpview.

East’s Katie Reineke, left, is congratulated by Taylor Nicolaides after scoring a goal in East’s 4-1 semifinal victory over Timpview.

Ravell Call, Deseret Morning News

SOUTH OGDEN — Woods Cross and East will face off today for the girls 4A state soccer title in a Region 5 grudge match.

East advanced to the championship game for the second straight year with a 4-1 victory over Timpview, the only team in the semifinals not from Region 5. After losing last year in the final game, Leopards coach Mike Kernodle doesn't want a victory in the semifinals to be the high point of his team's season.

"The whole point of the year is to get to this next game," he said. "Woods Cross is going to be a handful. They are capable of scoring in bunches."

The two teams have seen each other twice this year, with each taking one game.

Woods Cross downed Bountiful 2-0 in the first of two games held at Bonneville High Friday afternoon.

East was on the attack for most of the first half in the second game, keeping the Thunderbirds back on their heels with the ball in their half of the field, but the Leopards only led 1-0 at the break on Keirsten Nilsson's goal with 23 minutes to go.

Timpview managed to move the action to the Leopards' side of the field a few times with breakaways, but the Leopards' defense was quick to remove the ball and keep the Thunderbirds from converting on those chances.

East narrowly missed extending its lead in the first half when officials ruled that a ball that ended up in the back of the net had not crossed the plane of the goal before the whistle sounded.

"We missed a lot of opportunities (in the first half)," Kernodle said. "That's the way soccer is sometimes. You just have to keep plugging away until you get it."

While the Thunderbirds evened up the ball-control battle in the last five minutes of the first half and continued spending more time on the attack in the second, East did "get it" in the second half, starting with a straight-on shot by Leopard star midfielder Katie Reineke that was too hot for the Thunderbirds' keeper to handle to make it 2-0 with 36 minutes left.

Timpview junior Candice Clark kept the Thunderbirds in it by burying a sliding kick from the top of the box in the upper left corner of the goal less than 10 minutes later, but that was the only goal Leopard keeper Heather Joy would allow in the game.

Jane Nelson responded for the Leopards by putting a centered pass in with 18 minutes left, a goal that gave the Leopards the cushion they were looking for.

"There's a big difference between needing two at the end and needing one to tie," Kernodle said. Laura Ellison cemented the victory with just more than nine minutes remaining, scoring off a rebound of her own missed shot.

WOODS CROSS 2, BONNEVILLE 0: Woods Cross took the first game by getting a goal early in each half and holding on against the Braves for the rest of the time.

"It's especially good to beat a region rival for the third time (this year)," Wildcat coach Kevin Rigby said.

The Wildcats advance to the championship round for the first time since 1994, and haven't won a state title since 1992.

Kassidy Christensen's goal four minutes into the first half, and Abby Robinson's goal at the beginning of the next period were all the offense the Wildcats would need as Haley Anderson blanked the Braves in goal.

"I think we gave up a little bit of ground; we played too much defense," Rigby said. "The pressure was on the defense for much of the time, but they just didn't give up."

And that made for a tense game, he said. "It was exciting to the end. It always is at this level."

E-mail: RBurton@desnews.com