RIVERVIEW — Dating to her freshman season, Robinson senior forward Raquel Hill could remember just one district tournament win.
On Thursday night, Hill made sure her final district tournament was one to remember, and one that would propel a long-struggling Knights program to unfamiliar heights.
Hill scored a season-high three goals, leading the third-seeded Knights to a 5-1 win over No. 2 seed Strawberry Crest in the Class 4A-9 semifinals. Not only did the Knights win their second district tournament game this season, they clinched a region tournament berth.
“We haven’t had anything close to this, not even close,” Hill said. “Everybody underestimates us because of our history. We want to let the world know that we’re bringing it in all of our sports. Personally, I didn’t think we were the underdog.”
The Knights (7-6) will enter tonight’s district title game at Spoto as an underdog. Robinson will face top-seeded Steinbrenner (15-0-2), which made quick work of fifth-seeded Lennard, 10-0, in a game called after one half due to the mercy rule.
“What we wanted to do this year was break this karmic curse,” Robinson first-year coach Billy Helms said. “Since forever, even when I played Robinson teams, they didn’t have it. The players wanted this so bad. They wanted change. They didn’t want to go out in the first round.”
After Strawberry Crest took an early 1-0 lead, Hill started the Robinson rally at the 19th minute with a sensational play, breaking away from a sliding Chargers defender and beating the keeper far post.
Robinson took the lead less than a minute later on Charlotte Rothchild’s converted penalty kick. At the 30th minute, freshman Megan Wagner scored off a Rothchild penalty kick.
Then Hill, without a doubt the fastest player on the field, sealed the win with breakaway goals at 57th and 67th minute marks.
“She softens up their defense with her speed and her skill level and it affords other players to have their chances,” Helms said of Hill. “They focus on Raquel, and there’s always going to be another player open. She commands being watched and marked.”
In the nightcap, Steinbrenner scored six goals in an eight-minute span. Junior Cici Gonzalez scored a season-high four goals and sophomore Taylor Valley and freshman Marley Opila added two apiece. The Warriors, who have beaten district foes by a combined score of 66-1 (Robinson scored the only goal on a penalty kick), also received goals from Alexis Bredeau and Lauren Garris.