“If the rain comes,” said Hart High girls soccer coach Guilherme Mitrovitch at halftime Tuesday, “we’re going to embrace it. We’re going to feed off of it.”
The rain came down at the start of overtime against Upland High in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 playoffs.
Shortly after, Taylor Scott scored her second game-winning goal in as many games, this one in double overtime to seal a 1-0 win for the Indians.
“Some of our seniors were crying,” said Scott, whose golden goal came off a rebound after a corner kick. “We were just so happy.”
Hart (21-2-4) dominated overtime, pushing its way into attacking territory after learning the Highlanders’ habits in regulation.
“I think we did an excellent job neutralizing their weapons,” Mitrovitch said, “but also understanding what kind of game they want to play and make them play the game they don’t want to play.”
While getting to know the enemy, the Indians focused on their defend-first mentality in the first two halves. In a 4-2-3-1 formation, the bulk of responsibilities had shifted toward the midfield and back line, leaving Scott at the top as the lone attacker.
The best routes to scoring chances came via counterattacks and playing to the outside.
“We knew that coming into this game they were going to have a box middle with four players,” said Hart’s Brooke Rickard, “and that we were just really going to have to use our three center mids and our outside mids and just pack it in there and really have to play on the outsides.”
“We did such a good job of doing what we practiced, and we just really packed that middle in and we played great.”
Upland (15-3-4) also had the advantage of size, which is usually associated with winning balls in the air. That wasn’t the case against the Indians.
“Being strong in the air was something I don’t think they were prepared for and that definitely was a game changer for us,” said Hart’s Kassie Matthews.
Hart, which is on a nine-game win streak, next plays on Friday at Aliso Niguel of Aliso Viejo, which the Indians defeated in penalty kicks during preleague play.
“We’re ready for the challenge,” Rickard said. “We’re doing such a good job of playing any team and playing together. We can face any team and I think we’ll come out as a team whether winning or losing.”