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.”
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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.”