Nyah Kendall (8) assisted on Hidden Valley's winning goal Saturday. (Ben Maki/Grants Pass Daily Courier)
Nyah Kendall (8) assisted on Hidden Valley's winning goal Saturday. (Ben Maki/Grants Pass Daily Courier)

HILLSBORO -- From the opening minutes, it was plain that No. 1 Hidden Valley was intent on being the aggressor in the OSAA/OnPoint Community Credit Union 4A girls soccer final Saturday at Liberty High School.

A year after losing to No. 3 Valley Catholic in the championship match, the Mustangs had a chance for some payback against the Valiants, and they weren’t about to let it escape.

“We wanted to show them that we could do it this time,” Hidden Valley sophomore Emily Bergeron said.

Bergeron scored in the 26th minute, off an assist by senior Nyah Kendall, and the Mustangs (17-1) made it stand up for a 1-0 win over the third-seeded Valiants (13-3-2). It’s the first state title for Hidden Valley since it went back-to-back in 2006 and 2007.

“I wanted this so much,” Kendall said. “We worked for it the whole entire season. This is all we thought about. It was redemption for us to win. Being able to beat them is really exciting.”

The Mustangs did it with an attack that never let Valley Catholic get comfortable.

“We’ve just been playing on our front foot all season,” Hidden Valley coach Dennis Hart said. “We just continued that pattern. We just have great defense-breakers that kind of make it look like it’s a full frontal attack.”

The Mustangs dominated play early as senior Teagan Danner and Kendall hit shots that glanced off the crossbar. Finally, Kendall split the defense and pushed a short pass ahead to Bergeron, who deposited the ball in the goal.

“Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her,” Kendall said. “She had like the perfect opportunity.”

It was the type of play that Hart is used to seeing from Kendall.

“She puts so much pressure on the defense. She breaks the defense,” Hart said.

Valley Catholic, which beat Hidden Valley 1-0 for the title last year, was going for its fourth title since 2013. But the Valiants struggled to mount a consistent attack against the Mustangs.

“We were told at the beginning of the game that they were going to come out pretty hard, and be pretty physical, so we were expecting it,” Valiants senior forward Callie Kawaguchi said.

“It’s not something we’ve been facing all season, so I don’t think we were ready for it. And of course getting a goal in the first half, it slows us down a bit.”

Hidden Valley entered allowing a 4A-low eight goals this season, but suffered a blow Friday when their all-league defender, senior Megan Porter, pulled her groin. She came off the bench in the second half Saturday, but aggravated the injury and returned to the bench.

Hart said Porter’s absence forced him to shuffle his lineup, but the other Mustangs proved to be up to the task in support of 6-foot sophomore goalkeeper Kaiah Fisher.

Kawaguchi had two excellent chances for Valley Catholic.

In the 29th minute, she ran up on a ball just inside the 18-yard box and fired a shot, and the ball went under a diving Fisher and hit the left post. In the 64th minute, she hit a shot from about 25 yards that was headed toward the upper left corner, but a leaping Fisher deflected it wide.

The Valiants were desperate for the equalizer, but were unable to make a serious push in the game’s closing minutes as Hidden Valley could sense the title.

“All the players on my team played out of their minds,” Kendall said. “It was amazing. I think we were playing different than last year. I think we just wanted it more than last time.”