Westview's Cassie Taniguchi (6, shown in a game earlier this season) scored on a header to provide the Wolverines with the winning goal against Chino Hills on Saturday.
DOWNEY Junior Cassie Taniguchi picked a great time to use her head for the Westview girls soccer team.
The petite midfielder converted a header off a defensive flick amid a crowd in front of the net for the deciding goal on Saturday as the top-seeded Wolverines beat Chino Hills 2-1 in the Southern California Regional Division I final at Warren High.
“I’ve never, ever scored on a header before,” said Taniguchi, who recorded just her third goal of the season for a 2-0 lead 14 minutes into the second half. “It all was so quick. Wow, it went in.”
As Taniguchi accepted postgame hugs, tears of joy ran down her cheeks.
“We wanted to do this for our seniors,” said Taniguchi, a third-year varsity member. “It means the world to have our hard work pay off.”
Westview (20-8-4) prevailed for its first regional championship after losing in last year’s final in a scoreless game that was decided by penalty kicks.
The Wolverines’ Angel Meriwether ensured there’d be no shutout this time when she connected in the 12th minute off an assist from Hailey Harbison.
It was the first goal allowed by No. 3 Chino Hills (25-3-1) in three regional postseason contests.
“We wanted to come out strong really fast because we knew that the other team is really good,” said Meriwether, who registered her team-high 14th goal. “Then we had to stay strong and do what we know.”
Early in the second half, Wolverines defender Dominique DeCoy cleared the ball near the goal line to stop a scoring threat.
Chino Hills closed within 2-1 with 24 minutes to go.
Wolverines goalkeeper Brittney Viboch subsequently made the last two of her four saves in the second half.
“Man, oh, man, our girls battled,” Westview coach Peter Stogsdill said. “The way they came together this season is just amazing.”