Granada Hills secured the state title in a nerve wracking penalty shootout over Apple Valley.

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After a long season, the lights shine bright on the Granada Hills Highlanders, and Saturday, March 02 proved to be a historic evening for them. For the first time in program history the Highlanders won a state championship winning the SoCal DIII title. After battling an equal match against Apple Valley Sun Devils the Highlanders would prevail in PKs.

Apple Valley did not make it easy for Granada. The entire game was evenly contested as both sides tried to outperform one another. In the first half Apple Valley would take the lead in a physical contest from a free kick goal. With the home crowd supporting Granada, the Highlanders remained composed despite being down.

In the second half Granada would fight back, eventually earning a penalty kick. Ana De Los Santos would convert the penalty, leveling the game in the second half. The two teams gave everything pushing their limits to exhaustion, and neither side was willing to quit. Both programs fought admirably with chances created on both sides.

Granada and Apple Valley could not be separated at the end of regulation time. The match progressed into extra time with sudden death. Through the fifty-fifty duels both teams would be awarded set piece opportunities; however, none were converted by either side. As extra time concluded the game was decided on PKs.

With a championship at stake, it was Granada who would prevail in penalties. The first penalty taker for Apple Valley launched the ball over the goal after mishitting her shot. That one missed opportunity was the separation between two sides who were equals all evening. Natalia Pimentel would secure the title for Granada after making her penalty shot.

For Granada the result is a sweet ending after having come short in the city section playoffs. The program has a tradition of success but the State Championship solidifies the program as one of the best in Southern California. Most city section teams have a difficult time against Southern section opponents but the victory of Granada over Apple Valley is a result that the West Valley League should be proud of.

Coach Guilherme Mitrovich was full of joy as he personally checked off a piece of hardware that has eluded him in his eleven years of coaching at the high school level. “I admire our league competition. Our league battles prepared our program.” With spirits high and the Granada community full of pride Mitrovich thanked his assistant Kevin Marroquin and everyone who contributed to the 2023 to 2024 season. “I want to thank my assistant Kevin, the school staff, and parents. I am proud of what our girls accomplished this year.”

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