By Zack Farmer
The Washington High School girls soccer team is back in a familiar place.
After missing the playoffs last season, the Eagles fought through a tough Mission defense to win 3-0 in the Academic Athletic Association semifinals on Tuesday at Boxer Stadium.
The victory advances the Eagles (11-2-3) to their third championship game in four years, where they will face the winner of the Lowell-Lincoln semifinal match on Wednesday.
“Last year was really difficult,” said Washington head coach Charles Brinton. “That was the first year since I started coaching that we didn’t go to the postseason and that was a tough pill for me to swallow . . . they worked incredibly hard this year.”
Mission (10-10-1) controlled the early action and had a near goal off a rebound when junior Allysson Sanchez put a shot just over the crossbar from 15 yards out.
The Bears dominated much of the game and kept the ball in Washington territory for most of the first half, but were unable to capitalize.
“Our defense has really been our weakness all season until the past three games, where they really started to come together and learn to work with each other,” Brinton said. “In the past they wouldn’t talk, they wouldn’t call each other off and they’ve really started to come together in that way.”
Washington was able to find a crack in the Mission defense when Ileana Moncada bolted past defenders twice and nearly picked up two goals midway through the first half.
But on a following Washington possession, Talia Moore found Moncada in front of the goal and Moncada put the ball just over Mission goalkeeper Jessica Chel’s head to put the Eagles up 1-0.
Mission kept the pressure on Washington in the second half but was still unable to score.
“We definitely had the opportunities,” said Mission head coach Scott Kennedy. “Luck didn’t do our way, that’s for sure.”
Late in the second half, Washington put the game away.
Moncada again broke away from the pack, beat a Mission defender and scored her second goal of the day.
On the next Washington possession, Marianna Aguirre tacked another on for good measure and put the Eagles up 3-0.
It was the first time this season Washington played on a grass field and the team arrived at the field earlier than usual to get a feel for it. Saturday’s championship game will also be at Boxer Stadium.
“The ball slows down a lot more,” Brinton said. “They’re not able to do their normal footwork, because the ball is not moving as quickly as they’re used to. They made some good adjustments [and played] the way they needed to play.”