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Long wait worth it for Central Valley girls

Patience finally paid off Wednesday night for the Central Valley girls soccer team.

Delayed for one day by the weather and for 70 minutes by the Chiawana defense, the host Bears finally broke through for a dominating 3-1 win in their 4A regional championship match.

The reward – thanks partly to a hat trick from forward Savannah Hoekstra – is a chance to end years of waiting for a program that has just one goal left after winning another set of Greater Spokane League, district and regional titles.

“The trophies are nice,” CV coach Andres Monrroy said as he held the regional championship plaque, but our ultimate goal is always the same: to make it to the Final Four.”

The Bears (14-1) are just two games away from Monrroy’s goal. Next up is a first-round home game Tuesday against the sixth-place team from Districts 3 and 4, representing south Puget Sound and Western Washington. Chiawana will host Mead on Saturday to decide the region’s second berth to state.

Cheered on by about 150 fans braving 40-degree weather, the Bears wasted no time in taking the lead. In the second minute, midfielder Megan Dimmler sent a short pass into the goalmouth that Hoekstra slid past Chiawana goalkeeper Cyndi Cottrell.

The Mid-Columbia Conference champion Riverhawks responded a minute later as Alexis Stephenson seemed trapped left of the CV goal, but turned and hit a sharply angled shot past Bears keeper Jessie Kunz-Pfeiffer.

“I wasn’t very happy with the way they scored, let me tell you that,” Monrroy said, “But we kept our composure.”

The Bears did even better than that, limiting Chiawana to only one more shot the rest of the match despite dealing with a series of long balls up the middle to test center back McKenna Stocker and the other defenders.

In the 28th minute, Dimmler sent another pass into the box and Hoekstra pushed the ball into the Chiawana net.

The second half was more siege than soccer match, as the Bears forced Cottrell into several big saves, but survived a scare with 11 minutes left as Stephenson broke free down the left sideline. Kunz-Pfeiffer came off her line, as Stephenson fired wide left of the CV net.

One minute later, Alaina Bates passed to the top of the box to Hoekstra. “I just turned it, saw I had some room and took the shot,” Hoekstra said of her third goal of the night.

“I feel like we did a good job of controlling the game in the second half,” Monrroy said.