Freshman striker Breanna Reagan doesn’t show much emotion on the field, but after blistering a goal in the 76th minute to give the Rapid City Stevens a two-score lead on Spearfish, she couldn't help herself.
“I was so happy that I made it. I didn’t think I could make it, but I did,” Reagan said. “I knew that we were in their heads and they couldn’t come back.”
It was the dagger that sealed a victory for the No. 4 Raiders, whose 2-0 win knocked off the No. 5 Spartans on Saturday at Sioux Park, avenged a loss to their Black Hills foe earlier in the season and advanced them to a meeting with top-seeded Aberdeen Central in the Class AA semifinals.
“The last time we played Spearfish, we did get a one-goal lead but they rattled us with their high pressure. This time our girls were calmer,” Stevens head coach Luis Usera said. “We played calm and we weren’t making mistakes in the back, and that made a huge difference as the game progressed.”
In the closing minutes of a first half played mainly between the boxes, Reagan bodied a corner kick into a scrum of players in the box. The ball bounced off Reagan, deflected off a Spartans (11-4-0) defender and landed in the net to give the Raiders (11-2-1) a 1-0 advantage in the 34th minute.
In the second half, Stevens relied on a defensive strategy that has carried it through the season, playing back and clearing attacks from its opponent. It worked perfectly, as Stevens picked up its third straight shutout and 10th of the year.
“I just told them that I’m super proud that they’re trusting their training,” Usera said. “I’m super proud of them for doing that, and they believe that it’s working.”
The Raiders nearly tallied their second goal in the 48th minute when a corner kick was on line to find the net, but Spartans midfielder Madison Donovan punched it out with her head.
Reagan’s second goal, the one that put the nail in the coffin, was scored when she outran a defender on a feed from Leah Arnold and fired the shot 14 yards out to the top-right of the goal.
“That’s her forte,” Usera said of Reagan. “As a freshman she’s scoring goals, but what makes her so potent and so exciting is every player is working together to create it, so she’s not single-handedly doing it.”
Stevens will travel to No. 1 Aberdeen Central (13-1-0) on Tuesday for a chance to advance to the Class AA state championship game. Kickoff is TBA.
“We knew the first time we didn’t come out hard enough,” Reagan said of playing Spearfish earlier in the season. “We didn’t think they were going to be that good and they were. After this win we were all so happy. We all huddled and cheered. Some people cried.”
Contact Matt Case at firstname.lastname@example.org