The Cougars are league champions.
Needing a win or a tie at home on Tuesday night against Reed (11-6-0, 10-6-0) in the regular-season finale, Spanish Springs (14-3-2, 11-3-2) scored three second-half goals to claim the High Desert League No. 1 seed with a 3-1 victory over its cross-town rival.
The league title comes one year after the Cougs finished tied for first but took the No. 2 seed to the postseason after losing the tiebreaker. Reed would have won the title with a victory.
“It feels good,” Spanish Springs coach Mike Faker said. “(Last year) kind of put us in a tough spot but this year we got the route we wanted.”
The Cougars will open the playoffs Monday at home against Sierra League No. 4 seed, Galena (8-5-3 in the DI North), while the Raiders are handed a much tougher draw against Douglas which finished 11-3-2 in DI North play.
Reed lost to both Douglas 4-1 last month.
“The second half of the Douglas game was pretty good. It was 1-1 in the second half,” Reed coach Jason Saville said. “They’re certainly beatable but we’re going to have to play much better than we did tonight to beat any one of those teams.”
Despite getting outshot 10-2 in the first half on Tuesday night, Reed took a 1-0 lead to the half. Five minutes before the break, Ali Miller hit a shot off the crossbar that deflected straight down but was controversially ruled to cross the entire plane.
The Cougars again outshot the Raiders in the second half, 11-4, but capitalized on opportunities they missed in the first half, scoring three unanswered goals.
Senior Makayla Long started the flurry five minutes out of the break with a 25-yard blast inside the far post.
“I think we really had a talk at halftime that made us realize we had to pick it up,” Long said. “Because this was for the league title. It made us really work hard and we passed to feet. And we finished.”
Three minutes later, Allie Lepori scored what proved to the game-winner, finishing a cross from Kendall Kingery in the box.
Halley Morgan won the race for a thru ball in the 78th minute and won the 1-on-1 chance for an insurance tally.
“We fought in the first half then we laid down in the second half,” Saville said. “We knew they were going to come out fired up being down 1-0 … When the first goal went in, we certainly just laid down.”
The Cougars outshot the Raiders 21-6 in the contest and completed the season sweep of Reed after winning 5-0 at Reed on Oct. 10.
Because Spanish Springs and Reed finished 1-2 in the HDL respectively, both will host Monday’s DI North quarterfinals.
The Cougars, who beat the Grizzlies 2-0 earlier this season, will start at 6 p.m.
“(We will) just try to keep doing what we’re doing,” Faker said. “We’re not going to change anything up. We’re just going to try to keep outplaying people so we should be good.”
First kick in the Raiders’ playoff opener against the Tigers is at 6:30 p.m.
The Reed and Spanish Springs girls soccer JV teams played to a scoreless draw before the varsity contest. No big deal, right? Not exactly. The tie was the lone blemish of any sorts on the Cougs’ season. They finished 15-0-1 and outscored their opponents 70-5.