The goal frame was unkind to the home team Wednesday at Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium.
Third-seeded Central Valley survived a few second-half near-misses from No. 2 Sierra in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III semifinal, and after the two equally-matched teams battled to a 1-1 draw through regulation and two overtime periods the visiting Hawks prevailed on penalty kicks, 5-4.
Mixtly Vega nailed the deciding PK for Central Valley (21-2-2). Sierra’s Jasmine Loaiza attempted to force a sixth round in the shootout, but her shot bounced hard off the right post and went out.
The Hawks knocked off a section finalist in PKs for a second straight round, edging reigning champion Vista del Lago in the quarterfinals.
“We just played a very good team that went to the finals last year,” Central Valley coach Miguel Larranaga said. “We already knew it was going to be a tough game. I think our girls hung in there and played their game.
“At the end, we had better luck on the penalty kicks. It’s up in the air there. It happened for us in the last game and it happened here. I’m very happy for my girls.”
Neither of the top-two seeded teams will contend for the championship on Saturday at Cosumnes Oaks High, with No. 4 Woodland toppling Rio Americano in the other semifinal. It’s the only losses of the season for both Rio Americano (18-1-2) and Sierra (21-1-2), which has been snakebit in the postseason of late. Winners of four overall section titles, the Timberwolves were denied of a 10th final-round appearance and a chance to advance to the inaugural CIF State Northern California Championships.
“Hopefully we can learn from this moment and be better prepared for next year,” Sierra coach Manuel Pires said. “It’s always tough to end your season on penalty kicks.”
Sierra, which had a 16-12 advantage on shots, had chances to end it in regulation after Jadyn Shinn tallied her program record-tying 107th career goal — and 42nd for the season — in the 54th minute. Controlling a through ball from Yasmin Ballew, Shinn dribbled to the 18-yard line and crushed a right-footed strike past Hawks goalie Emely Lopez.
“It was a great ball by Yas and I was hungry for a goal,” said Shinn, who has recently decommitted from Notre Dame in favor of Cal. “I wanted to do anything I could to win. I just felt like it was the right time to go for it.”
Central Valley answered just four minutes later. Jocelyn Rodriguez sent a direct kick into the penalty box, and Central Valley forward Michelle Jimenez fell to the turf when battling for position with Sierra’s Julissa Pimentel. The Hawks were awarded a penalty kick, and Jocelyn Lopez converted with her 34th goal.
“I’m not questioning that call, but there were a couple on the other side there that could have been called,” Pires said. “We just haven’t been getting those calls.”
Shinn later had two great looks at giving Sierra the lead. A cross from Loaiza set her up for a left-footed half-volley blocked by a diving Lopez, and after a nice give-and-go with Daisy Valencia Shinn banged the attempt off the crossbar.
Then on the final play of regulation, Shinn touched pass to a wide-open Tiana Cello inside the box, but the ensuing shot was blown over the goal.
“There were some parts of the game where we were pretty unlucky, but that’s the game of soccer,” Shinn said. “Other than that, it was a great game by both teams, and I know our team gave it our all.”