Coming off a pair of shutout losses to close out the regular season, the Stockdale girls soccer team entered the playoffs focused on finding the back of the net.
It didn't take long for the No. 7 Mustangs to accomplish that goal against No. 10 Clovis East in their Central Section Division I first-round matchup Wednesday.
Just 1 minute, 16 seconds into the game, Tala Haddad knocked in a rebound, paving the way for a 1-0 Stockdale victory over the visiting Timberwolves.
"We were really pumped in the beginning, and we just wanted it," Haddad said. "We didn't end our season very well. We were just so ready for playoffs and so ready for this game. I'm really proud of our team.
"We came out like the first five minutes just fired and pumped up and we were able to put one in the back of net."
The Mustangs will next face two-time defending D-I champion Clovis-Buchanan, the second seed, in the quarterfinals on Friday. Stockdale has lost the section championship game to the Bears each of the past two years.
"I want to play them so bad," said Haddad, who is a four-year Stockdale varsity player. "I think that was the real fire under our belly this game, because we knew if we won we got to play Buchanan on Friday and really get some revenge."
The Mustangs dominated the entire first half against Clovis East but failed to convert on numerous scoring opportunities other than the early goal. Stockdale had nine shots on goal, seven in the first half.
"I'm really proud of the girls," Stockdale coach Janien McGowan said. "We've been working really hard. In the playoffs, (it's) one and done. The kids knew that. We came out really fired up, wanting to press them."
Clovis East never sustained much of an offensive push and relied on counter-attacks to try to score.
The Timberwolves played much better in the second half. They nearly tied things up with 27:30 left in the game when Kendal Sharar chipped a pass ahead to Peyton Kwalwasser, who fired a hard shot right at the top of net that Stockdale goalkeeper Tori Farris jumped up and deflected just over the crossbar.
Farris finished with three saves in posting her seventh shutout of the season.
"I think ultimately the start of the game is what killed us," Clovis East coach Jasara Gillette said. "We got scored on in the first minute. Once we woke up and came out to play, it was a battle."
Haddad's goal was assisted by Caitlin Gharibeth. The junior midfielder slipped a beautiful pass up to Haddad near the top right side of the box. Once in possession of the ball, the senior forward made a quick move ahead and then took a hard shot that Clovis East goalie Amanda Raymond deflected back out to Haddad, who slotted it into the far back corner of the net.
Despite letting that shot go in, Raymond had a total of seven saves.
Several other times during the game Haddad put Raymond on alert by driving the ball deep into the corner and then crossing the ball in front of the goal mouth.
Unfortunately for Stockdale, there was never anyone on the other end able to finish one of those the scoring chances.
"Sometimes we're unlucky but hey 1-0, we scored one," Haddad said. "That's all that counts. We still won."