Highland vs. Desert Vista girls soccer semifinal matchup
Division I Girls Soccer semifinal
No. 3 Highland vs. No. 2 Desert Vista
When: 5 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Campo Verde H.S. (3870 S. Quartz Street, Gilbert)
Outlook: The defending champions haven’t steamrolled through this tournament, nor was that likely to happen anyway, but Highland has played well enough (especially in the second half of matches), gotten its usual elite play from its elite forwards (Ashley Hatch, Bre Hatch and Brena Jarvis) and Jaden DeGracie in the midfield. The defense and goalkeeping (Ashley March) are veterans who went through last year’s championship run, and they’ve been underrated throughout this season because of the high-scoring frontline. Desert Vista’s defense shut down Highland’s attack for long stretches in the Diablos Tournament championship match (a 2-1 win for Desert Vista) but Campo Verde’s wide field and FieldTurf will make a repeat performance difficult for DV on the back end, so the Thunder need to keep possession in the Highland’s zone or midfield. Once Highland gets in opposition’s side of the field, they’re lethal. Fortunately for the Thunder, they have Rachel Ressler who’s about as good as it gets defensively, and Kelly Watson and Kayla Weeks are solid goal-scorers and setup artists for teammates. Nobody is going to be intimidated by the other. Both teams narrowly lost to Pinnacle earlier this season, Desert Vista’s only loss this season and Highland’s only other loss beside to D.V. in the tournament. Between this matchup and the Pinnacle-Xavier matchup, the top four seeds in the power rankings remain, and both matches should live up to the excellence of these schools.