Pinnacle's rally cry for the postseason was getting back to the championship match that eluded it the past two seasons with semifinal losses. There's no more efficient way to do that than blank all your playoff foes.
Pinnacle's Kayla Fleming scored the match's only goal in the 39th minute and the Pioneers' defense tossed its fourth straight shutout in a 1-0 triumph over Perry on Satruday afternoon to claim the Division I girls soccer championship at Campo Verde High School.
Pinnacle (20-3-3) claimed its second girls soccer title in school history to go with four runner-up finishes. Pinnacle had plenty of offense, but surrendered only 10 goals in 26 matches. The postseason victims were Mountain Pointe, Gilbert prior to Xavier and Perry. Perry, which started only three seniors, finished 14-6-2 and lost for the first time in 13 matches dating back to late December. Perry was shooting not only for the first girls soccer title in school history, but the first in any sport.
Pinnacle coach Suzanne Kirchner preached "unfiinished business" to her team as postseason began two weeks ago. Her team's resolve was steadfast and the Pioneers' wins in Thursday's semifinal over Xavier (2-0) and Perry were accomplished in similar manner.
On Thursday leading scorer Jorian Baucom blasted home the only goal needed in the 37th minute and the Pioneers defense held up the rest of the way. Baucom added an incidental goal with two seconds left.
Ditto Saturday, but while the late first-half goal vs. Perry wasn't scored by Baucom, it certainly had Baucom's DNA on it.
Baucom got few chances on Saturday and not many in the opening half until late. With just less than two minutes left in the opening 40, Baucom slid a pass across the field to Fleming racing to the left corner of Perry's box. Fleming lofted a shot along the goal line that caromed off the cross bar. Baucom came in for the rebound with a header that hit the far post and bounced back. Baucom eventually regained possession after a scramble about 10 yards out in the middle of the box and rolled a pass to her left to Fleming. Fleming beat Perry keep Carly Sandstedt's diving effort at the near post for the goal. Up to that point Perry had the better of possession and shots in the first half.
Perry and coach Jason Dunn thought offside should have been called when Baucom came in for the header, but the call was not made.
Baucom, one of three seniors on Pinnacle's 2011 state title team (Maddie Kmetko and Mary Claire Danilevics the others), combined with teammate Gabriela Stoian for 50 goals this season. Fourteen different players scored for Pinnacle this season. The goal by Fleming was her first of the year making it 15 players with a one goal or more.
Asked if she thought she would have scored the game-winning goal, Fleming said: "I hoped I would, but never thought it would happen."
Baucom, playng the final game of her prep career and headed for LSU this fall, didn't care that she didn't score in the title game.
"I'm at a loss for words," Baucom said. "For (Kayla) to score her first goal and it wins the state championship is great..... When we started the playoffs this year we knew there would be no more stopping at the semis. To win a championship my freshman year and close out senior year with one is awesome."
Kirchner classily attired in a dress and heels, got soaked by her team as the game concluded. She didn't mind.
"We started out like we did against Xavier, not real strong," Kirchner said. "We got the goal we needed. This has been a second-half team and we were solid the second half. It was a battle of two great defenses."
Perry got off only a couple shots in the second half. The close call for Perry in the second half was from about 25 yards out by Ashley Dahl that hit the crossbar in the final 10 minutes and then was cleared by Pinnacle's defense.
Dunn didn't fault his team for its effort or even the goal allowed.
"The referees saw it as a goal and it wasn't going to be taken away," Dunn said. "I thought we kept (Baucom) in check. It was one lucky bounce for them and one unlucky bounce for us. Pinnacle's been around and it's a credit to their system. I think this team will be back. We lose five seniors, but have a lot of younger players coming and many of them with a good amount of experience coming back."