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SALT LAKE CITY — Alli Spencer didn't consider herself a hero.
The Skyline goalkeeper lived through the emotional ups and downs of a shootout against Bountiful Thursday afternoon, finally put an end in a 4A quarterfinal contest with a goal that finished a remarkable effort by both teams.
After the two teams finished regulation and two overtimes tied 1-1, Spencer's goal gave Skyline a 5-4 edge in the shootout and sent players and fans crashing together on a beautiful sunshine-filled day.
"I didn't think they (the coaches) would ask me to be in the shootout," Spencer said. "We started working on shootouts the last week and I only kicked one yesterday "and I did OK. When I heard a coach call my number, I just went out and did it. I didn't have time to be nervous."?
Skyline's victory had a championship-game feeling, but the Eagles must regroup to play in the semifinals Tues., Oct. 18 against Bonneville at Juan Diego's field. Bountiful finished its year with a 15-2-1 record. Despite suffering a couple of injuries Thursday, the Braves felt very confident for much of the game that it would be them advancing.
"I felt we controlled the ball and had our chances," said Braves coach Lou Plank. "But this tournament is about survival and a little bit of luck."?
After a balanced first half, in which both teams missed chances to score because of great defensive plays, Bountiful took a 1-0 lead on a goal by senior Paige Hunt, who gave a phenomenal effort despite battling injuries. The Braves seemed headed for the win until Skyline speedster Ashley Aberton took over.
With the scoreboard clock turned off (and the game nearly over), Aberton got the ball past two defenders and then kicked it into the net to keep Skyline's hopes alive. Eagles coach Yamil Castillo said that was the key play of the match.
"Ashley can create," he said. "We caught them off guard and that gave us momentum."?
Aberton, who had three goals Tuesday in Skyline's 5-1 opening-round win over Box Elder, had pretty much been a non-factor until that time. Bountiful defended her well and Braves' keeper Carley Longhurst later stopped one of her shots in the shootout that could have given Skyline the win.
"We all figured she would score and win it right then,"?Spencer said. "But their keeper made a nice save on the play. The shootout was full of ups and downs for each of us."?
In the end, Spencer stopped a shot by Stephanie Montenengro and then, when asked, used her strong leg to hammer the ball to the net. The Eagles improved to 15-3 overall and now continue their trek to win their first girls state soccer title since 2001.