DENVER | It seemed only right that Regis Jesuit’s Zoey Dale had the ball on her stick in the biggest moment of Monday night’s chilly state field hockey semifinal.
The senior defender had her goal disallowed in the closing seconds of the opening half of the second-seeded Raiders’ matchup with No. 3 Cherry Creek at All-City Stadium, but made it count when she got her second big opportunity.
Dale sent Regis Jesuit into the state championship game for a second straight season when she ripped a shot into the goal off a short corner chance less than two minutes into the second overtime for a 1-0 sudden victory over the Bruins.
“I’ve been on that left side all season (on corners) and that’s the first goal I’ve gotten,” said Dale, who has scored two of her three goals in the postseason, including a penalty stroke conversion in a quarterfinal win over Arapahoe.
“I’m really psyched for my team because it was a really great work together,” she added. We really had no idea what we were going to do on that corner.”
Coach Spencer Wagner’s Raiders improved to 14-1-2 and set up a 6 p.m. Tuesday showdown on the same field with No. 1 Colorado Academy, which defeated No. 4 Kent Denver 1-0 in the other semifinal. The Mustangs (17-0) dealt Regis Jesuit its only loss of the regular season.
In 60 minutes of regulation and one 10-minute overtime period, the only ball that had gone into either goal came off the stick of Dale, who scored on the end of a penalty corner with 10.7 seconds remaining in the first half.
Game officials met and decided the ball had not come fully out of the circle, which is required to make a subsequent goal count.
In the second overtime — when the game was played 7-on-7 and would have gone to a shootout if neither team had scored — Regis Jesuit made the most of its 12th corner opportunity (to 10 for Cherry Creek).
Senior Caitrin Lombardo started the play to the right of the Bruins’ goal, directing her pass to Dale, who fired across to senior Lauren Pendergast, who served it immediately back to Dale.
With less congestion in the middle with fewer players on the field, Dale took a touch and then fired the ball past Cherry Creek goalie Emma Litvin for her third goal of the season.
The sweet sound of the ball hitting the wood in the back of the goal ignited a celebration that saw Dale get swallowed up by her onrushing teammates.
“With only three back on defense (in 7-on-7), it opens up a lot of passing space; they practiced looking for that open lane and they found it,” Wagner said. “I was really glad it got back to Zoey because I think that first goal she scored was perfect. The umpires felt otherwise. I’m really glad she got to redeem herself and get that same goal.
“It look a little longer to get that back, but I was really pleased it was her. She deserved it.”
Regis Jesuit beat Cherry Creek in the playoffs for the third time in four meetings over the past five seasons, which also includes a 2017 quarterfinal victory as well as last season’s state championship game, which the Raiders won 2-1 in overtime.
Now, they take aim at a Colorado Academy team in which they are 0-6-1 against over the last seven seasons, which includes a 2-0 defeat Sept. 26.
Regis Jesuit sees the Mustangs for the first time in the playoffs since 2012, when it dropped a 3-0 decision in the quarterfinals.
“I feel excited; we can go back and we can take this,” Dale said.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
(2) REGIS JESUIT 1, (3) CHERRY CREEK 0 (2OT)
Score by halves:
Cherry Creek 0 0 0 0 — 0
Regis Jesuit 0 0 0 1 — 1
Regis Jesuit — Zoey Dale (Lauren Pendergast)