Northwood's Carina Hendley, left, hugs Danielle Solaru as they celebrate a goal late in the second half of the CIF-SS Division 2A girls soccer semifinal against ML King of Riverside on Tuesday.

Northwood uses late push to land in its first final


IRVINE - Northwood’s girls soccer team made history Tuesday afternoon by rallying from a one-goal deficit in the second half to defeat ML King of Riverside, 3-2, in a CIF-SS Division 2 semifinal match at Meadowood Park in Irvine.

The Timberwolves (17-4-5) earned their first trip to the finals in school history. Northwood will face Palos Verdes of Palos Verdes Estates on Friday or Saturday at location to be determined. The day and location will be announced today.

The season is not over for King (22-6-4), which qualified for the CIF State Regionals by advancing to the CIF-SS semifinals. The regional tournament begins next week.

With a large contingent of fans cheering it on, Northwood overcame a 2-1 deficit by scoring two goals within a span of 10 minutes in the second half, including the deciding goal by Danielle Solaru, her second of the match, with about 15 minutes remaining.

“Dani comes up big. Dani is our go-to (player) up top, and we’ve got a lot of other players that support and score a lot of goals too,” said Northwood coach Cory Dilbeck.

“I just wanted to make sure it got in the back of the net,” Solaru said. “I didn’t want to hit it too hard; it was really all about placing it.”

A goal by Carina Hendley tied it, 2-2, about five minutes earlier, giving the Timberwolves some life.

“It’s been an unbelievable team from day one,” Dilbeck said. “It’s a group of girls who really believes they can go the whole way. They’ve been tested in a lot of different games, including this one.

“King is a very good team and a lot of the teams we’ve played in the playoffs have been very difficult teams. We’ve had to do it the hard way and we’ve done it so far.”

King coach Bryan Kuderman credited both teams for their play.

“For high school, this was a good match. You can’t blame the referees, which is always a good sign,” Kuderman said. “There were not excessive fouls, which was a great sign. It was two teams who came out to play.”

It looked like it might be King’s day in the early going. The Wolves went ahead, 1-0, about a minute into the match on a goal by Breanna Fatten.

A goal by Solaru with about 10 minutes left in the first half evened the score.

King moved ahead, 2-1, on a goal by Rola Badawiya about 10 minutes into the second half, before Northwood mounted its comeback.

Northwood goalkeeper Mackenzie Curry came up with some key saves in the final minutes to preserve the victory.

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