Preps

Wednesday, Feb 26 2014 10:43 PM

Highland girls top East, will play for D-III title again

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    By David Dennis / Special to The Californian

    Danielle Vargas (C) #4 of the Highland Scots battles it out with Anyssa Lopez #12 of the East High Blades for the ball as the Scots drive down the field.

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  2. 2 of 14

    By David Dennis / Special to The Californian

    Arielle Joven #10 of the Highland Scots heads the ball with Emily Teutimez #14 of the East High Blades looking to steal the ball.

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  3. 3 of 14

    By David Dennis / Special to The Californian

    Paige Jano #17 of the Highland Scots defends the Highland side against Emily Teutimez #14 of the East High Blades as she tries to advance the ball down the field.

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  4. 4 of 14

    By David Dennis / Special to The Californian

    Odalys Espinoza #20 of the East High Blades and Alejandra Cervantes #26 of the Highland Scots both go up for the ball after Highland tries to push the ball deep into the East High side of the field.

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  5. 5 of 14

    By David Dennis / Special to The Californian

    Mariah Rex #9 of the Highland Scots almost gets the goal as Brooke McDonald of the East High Blades scoops up the ball.

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  6. 6 of 14

    By David Dennis / Special to The Californian

    Paige Jano #17 of the Highland Scots blocks off an East High player as she tries to get to the ball.

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  7. 7 of 14

    By David Dennis / Special to The Californian

    Alejandra Cervantes #26 of the Highland Scots and Lily Coronado #16 of the East High Blades collide as they both go for the ball.

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  8. 8 of 14

    By David Dennis / Special to The Californian

    Alejandra Cervantes #26 of the Highland Scots and Lily Coronado #16 of the East High Blades collide as they both go for the ball.

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  9. 9 of 14

    By David Dennis / Special to The Californian

    Payton Armijo #7 of the Highland Scots looks down field to pass the ball with Lily Coronado #16 of the East High Blades next to her.

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  10. 10 of 14

    By David Dennis / Special to The Californian

    Danielle Vargas (C) #4 of the Highland Scots goes up to head the ball away from Karla Prieto #13 of the East High Blades.

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  11. 11 of 14

    By David Dennis / Special to The Californian

    Paige Jano #17 of the Highland Scots and Emily Teutimez #14 of the East High Blades battle over the ball at midfield.

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  12. 12 of 14

    By David Dennis / Special to The Californian

    Odalys Espinoza #20 of the East High Blades moves the ball cross the field as she tries to pass the ball.

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  13. 13 of 14

    By David Dennis / Special to The Californian

    Ashley Quintanilla #6 of the East High Blades and Danielle Vargas (C) #4 of the Highland Scots both go for the ball as the Scots push the ball down the field.

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  14. 14 of 14

    By David Dennis / Special to The Californian

    Odalys Espinoza #20 of the East High Blades blocks the ball on a pass from her teammate.

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BY STEPHEN LYNCH Special to The Californian

The Highland girls soccer team is headed back to familiar territory.

The second-seeded Scots earned a fourth straight trip to the Central Section Division III championship game with a 3-1 semifinal victory over No. 3 East on Wednesday night.

Payton Armijo had two goals and an assist and Danielle Vargas scored a goal for the three-time defending section champs, who split a pair of games with the Blades (22-4-1) during the regular season.

Highland (14-11-2) will travel to top-seeded Visalia-Central Valley Christian (20-1-2), a 1-0 overtime semifinal winner over No. 5 Liberty Madera Ranchos, in the D-III championship game on Friday.

"It's huge for us," Armijo said. "I think every year we get better."

The Cavaliers, who lost 2-1 to Highland in last year's semifinals, enter the title game riding a 20-game winning streak.

"It's just kind of crazy because every year we graduate quality players," Highland coach Tom Ferralli said. "...The credit goes to (the players). They work hard. We took our lumps at the beginning of the season with a strong schedule. I think they're here to finish it off."

Vargas, a four-year varsity starter, scored on a short header off a beautiful through ball from Armijo in game's eighth minute to give Scots the lead and the early momentum against East.

Armijo made it 2-0 early in the second half when her low bouncing shot slipped through the wet hands of East goal keeper Brooke McDonald.

Four minutes later the Blades Angel Valdez received a perfectly-placed pass from Emily Teutimez and then slotted the ball into the back corner of the net, trimming Highland's lead to 2-1.

But Armijo quickly responded with her team-leading 17th goal of the season to give the Scots breathing room.

"We're young," East coach Marty Martinez said. "We start a lot of freshman and sophomores. It wasn't our time. But I was proud of the kids because we battled. We never quit. And that's what we preach here."

Both of Armijo's goals were assisted by Paige Jano, one of four seniors in Highland's starting lineup.

"I'm just happy to have a great team," Vargas said. "We all work together hard and we accomplished it. I'm happy to go to another Valley championship game. It's really exciting."

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