RENO - Douglas High grad Amber Gwinn had to take a moment to collect herself after her Manogue Miners upended her alma mater 2-1 in the state girls' soccer semifinals at Damonte Ranch Friday afternoon.
"I honestly don't know what information I can give right now," said a smiling Gwinn, who won a regional title as a player with the Tigers but was never able to play for state, due to the absence of a girls' tournament. "This means the world to me.
"I'm reliving the dream I had in high school. These girls are amazing. I couldn't ask for anything more than for them to play tomorrow morning (for the state championship)."
The Miners rode the strength of two first-half goals and held off a ferocious attack from the Tigers to clinch the win.
Gabby Rainoldi got the Miners on the board in the 12th minute on a shot from 20 yards out that beat Tiger keeper Bri Randall to her left.
"That first goal is very important," Gwinn said. "I believe it determines who wins the game."
Ashley Sambrailo added the second in the 25th minute, leaving Douglas at a 2-0 deficit for the first time since the 2008 regional championship game against Reed when this season's seniors were freshmen.
It was an unexpected circumstance for the Tigers, who beat Manogue 5-1 last week.
Gwinn said Manogue chose to focus on the Miners' earlier 1-0 win over the Tigers rather than the regional playoff loss.
"We talked about defeat last Thursday at practice," she said. "What happened on Wednesday, we are over that. We are moving on.
"It just came down to wanting it and playing our best game. Douglas is a great team, but we knew if we played well, we could run with them. That early win was important. It let the girls know we can beat them. Douglas is a great team, but so are we."
Douglas ramped up its intensity heading into the second half, pressuring the Miner net.
"We had a plan we were trying to execute from the outset," Douglas coach Lorraine Fitzhugh said. "We talked at halftime about the midfield staying central and tying things together. When that glue isn't consistent, it is tough, but they did a good job pulling it together."
A long punt from Randall sprung Katie Dry loose down the left side of the field in the 65th minute. Dry closed on the net and placed a shot to the far post, which Manogue keeper Wynne Allen managed to deflect.
Freshman Lexi VonSchottenstein was there to collect the rebound, though, and punched it home to cut the lead to 2-1.
Douglas had a number of chances to tie down the stretch, but Allen came up big making tough saves on each.
"She's been playing well," Gwinn said. "She earned the shot to be in there.
"Our defense as a whole is our strongest line. We talk about using the line as your 12th man and nothing will get past you guys."
For Douglas, it was an abrupt end to one of the best seasons in schools history. The Tigers tied a school record for wins in a season (22) and rose to No. 11 in the NSCAA/Adidas Western Region.
The seniors were a part of two league championships, two regional championships and two state championships.
"They came this far, learned a lot of lessons and gave their best," Fitzhugh said. "They absolutely did. Things just don't turn out your way sometimes.
"I'm proud of how they fought back today. Everyone gave their best, we have our chin up and just fell short of what we were trying to accomplish.
"All the things the older kids learned, they passed on. The experience, how to handle the pressure. They were fantastic mentors. They loved each other.
"The 18-19 girls on the team through the season have built friendships better than ever. Hopefully they can look back at this season and think of it as the best simply because of the relationships built."