GILBERT — Academic Magnet girls soccer coach Anna Merriman knew she could count on Kallie Peurifoy in crunch time.
So it was no surprise when Peurifoy saved the Raptors’ season Friday afternoon in the Class AA state championship against Christ Church at Leonard Price Stadium.
The Cavaliers led 1-0, and that’s when Peurifoy showed her savvy to save the day. She scored in the 79th minute to force overtime. Two 10-minute overtimes and two five-minute sudden-death OTs didn’t produce a winner, so they went to penalty kicks.
The Raptors outscored the Cavaliers 6-4 in PKs with freshman Maegan Reed scoring the deciding goal.
The Raptors won their second state championship in three years, avenging last year’s loss to Christ Church in the title game.
“We know we can go to Kallie when the game is on the line,” Merriman said. “She scored a goal in the last minute in a playoff game in 2011, and scored two goals in the last minute of this year’s Viking Cup to put us in the title game. She’s a big-time player who comes up with big plays in the big games.”
Academic Magnet finished the season with a 23-3 record, while the Cavaliers ended at 20-5.
The two schools played earlier in the season, and the Raptors won a thriller.
“Christ Church played hard earlier in the year, and we knew they would play twice as hard today,” Peurifoy said. “We got our revenge. Last year, honestly, we came in thinking we had it won. We weren’t going to make the same mistake today.”
While the Raptors dedicated the match to the seniors on the roster, it was the freshman Reed who scored the deciding goal.
“I was really nervous, but I knew we deserved to win,” Reed said. “I just wanted to stay calm. Our team has a lot of heart.”
Merriman said that PKs isn’t the ideal way to decide a match.
“But you have to settle it some way,” she said.
“The girls worked on mental toughness, and that’s what it came down to today. Regulation, overtime, sudden death and penalty kicks. We had it today.”
Christ Church took a 1-0 lead in the 27th minute when Silton Furman scored. The Raptors had their chance, but couldn’t find the net.
“I told the girls we spent most of the game knocking on the door,” Merriman said. “I told the girls not to get out of their style. I was a little nervous at the end (of regulation), but Kallie pulled us through.”
Follow Philip M. Bowman on Twitter: @PandCPhil