Daniela Correra said she has practiced the shot “a million times.”
So when the Gulliver forward lined up a direct kick from 30 yards out with three minutes left in a tie game, she figured “what’s a million and one.”
And the practice paid off as Correa fired a perfect right-to-left arcing shot that just barely snuck into the top right corner of the net past diving Carrollton goalkeeper Vivian Guerra to give her Raiders a 3-2 win over the Cyclones in a Region 4-2A semifinal at Carollton School in Coconut Grove.
“I got good foot on it, and I thought it had a chance when I let it go but wasn’t completely sure,” Correa said. “Yeah, I work on that shot all the time, and it’s great to know all the practice paid off. It was a big moment for my team, and it’s really exciting to be moving on.”
Gulliver, which lost both times to Carrollton, including an epic district final two weeks ago that took 27 penalty kicks to decide the issue, advanced to the Region 4-2A final. The Raiders (13-4-1) will travel north to take on West Palm Beach Oxbridge Academy on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Oxbridge was the 2A state runner-up last season.
Gulliver appeared to be in great shape at the half after Isabel Garcia scored twice in the first half, including a header off a corner kick 20 seconds before halftime.
But Carrollton (13-5-2), which made a Cinderella run all the way to the regional final a year ago before falling to Oxbridge, battled back. The Cyclones scored seven minutes into the second half on a corner kick and tied it with 7:12 left in regulation when Alexis Diaz-Silveira, much like Correa did, knifed a rocket shot from 25 yards out into the top right corner of the net.
“It’s hard to describe how special she is,” Gulliver coach Chi Chi Nwadike said of Correa, a sophomore who transferred from Varela last year. “She brings the physicality, the speed, the power, the skill, all in the body of a 10th-grader. When we had a coaches meeting [Thursday] night, I told them she’s only a sophomore, and they all sort had this look of disbelief on their faces. She really came through for us today.”