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Central girls advance to state soccer semifinals

Aberdeen Central’s Jayda Hammer, center right, celebrates scoring a goal with teammate Taryn Hettich, center as Morgan Fiedler, far left, joins the party during Saturday’s playoff match with Watertown at Swisher Field. In on the play for Watertown are keeper Katelyn Hanson, bottom right, Hannah Walburg (12) and Makenna Blank, foreground right. Central went on to defeat Watertown 3-0 to advance in the playoffs. Photo by John Davis taken 10/9/2021

The top-seeded Aberdeen Central girls’ soccer team defeated Watertown 3-0 in the State AA quarterfinals behind a dominant second-half performance on its home turf of Swisher Field Saturday. The win gives Central a combined regular season and postseason record of 13-1 and marks the program’s second state semifinal berth in three years.

The Eagles held slightly more possession and registered more shots on goal in the first half, but the two teams went into halftime tied scoreless.

Central’s first goal came in the 50th minute from senior forward Jayda Hammer. Hammer initially attempted an overhead kick in a crowded penalty box that ricocheted off the crossbar, then gathered the loose ball and fired the shot into the bottom right corner of the net.

“We did a better job in the second half of keeping the pressure on them, finding the open situations and putting the ball in front of the net where it’s dangerous,” said Central coach Merle Aske.

The Arrows created quality opportunities throughout the second half to provide an equalizer, the best of which came with 15 minutes left in the game. Watertown attacking midfielder Rylie Campbell came through on goal, one-on-one with Paige Burilovich who made her most impressive and crucial save of her 12 on the afternoon.

“I saw her coming at me and I just ran as hard as I could at her and I got my leg out,” Burilovich said. “Luckily, it was enough to get there and make the save.”

Deshani Peters secured the quarterfinal win for the Eagles with 10 minutes left on a direct goal from a corner kick, curling the ball perfectly into the net with her left-footed attempt. Taryn Hettich scored the team’s third five minutes later to make the final score 3-0.

“The quarterfinals seem to be our big stumbling block,” said Aske. “Now we’re one of the top four teams and we just need to find a way to get it done.”

Central, riding a seven-game winning streak, will now face No. 4-seed Rapid City Stevens which defeated Spearfish 2-0 in the quarterfinals.

“It feels crazy,” said Burilovich. “I’m glad that we are going further than last year and we improve on our goal.”

The Eagles will host the Raiders Tuesday afternoon at Swisher Field with the winner punching a ticket to the State AA final Saturday in Sioux Falls.

Watertown 0 0 – 0
Aberdeen Central 0 3 – 3

First Half: None.

Second Half: Aberdeen Central, Jayda Hammer, 50th minute; Aberdeen Central, Deshani Peters 70th minute; Aberdeen Central, Taryn Hettich (Kaylin Poppen) 75th minute.

Shots on Goal: Watertown 23 (12 on goal); Aberdeen Central 32 (16 on goal).

Goalies: Watertown, Katelyn Hanson (13 saves); Aberdeen Central, Paige Burilovich (12 saves).

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