Longtime Urbana High School girls soccer coach Chuck Nichols said he could not remember the last time an Urbana and Tuscarora match finished in regulation.
Games between the historical rivals, he added, typically come down to one moment.
That moment came for the defending Class 3A West Region champion Hawks in the 51st minute on Saturday in the 3A West Region semifinal round when senior defender Jenn Heflin connected with freshman striker Gaelin Hirabayashi on a 30-yard free kick.
Urbana’s 1-0 victory over the region’s top seed avenged an overtime loss to Tuscarora during the regular season.
The Hawks (9-4-0) ended the Titans’ (10-4-2) season in the same round last year in penalty kicks.
Urbana will travel to third-seeded Gov. Thomas Johnson , a winner over No. 2 Damascus of Montgomery County Friday night, on Tuesday at 6 p.m. for the region championship game.
“One moment has been the difference between us and Tuscarora for as long as I can remember. In the regular season, Emily Martin scored and they found the moment. [Saturday] we created the moment out of nothing,” Nichols said.
Hirabayashi’s older sister, goalkeeper Natasja, had several shining moments of her own on Saturday.
The elder Hirabayashi got in front of a first half Martin shot attempt that smacked off the crossbar and made three acrobatic saves on dangerous kicks from senior striker Aaran Parry late in the second half.
Parry spent the second half of the first period in goal after Titans sophomore goalkeeper Meghan Laser was taken to the hospital following a collision that injured her hip. As always, Saturday’s contest was a physical back-and-forth game with each team creating its share of opportunities. This time, Urbana was able to capitalize.
“[Saturday] is always what you expect [when Tuscarora and Urbana] play. You know it’s going to be one goal somewhere. Usually it comes in overtime. It’s who finds that one moment that makes the difference,” Tuscarora coach Mark Wolcott said.
Urbana 1, Tuscarora 0
Urbana (9-4-0) 0 1 — 1
Tuscarora (10-4-2) 0 0 — 0
Urbana — Gaelin Hirabayashi
Urbana — Jenn Heflin