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Goalkeeper gaffe leads to Viking joy as Pleasant Grove wins first soccer title in school history

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

10 photos

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SANDY — Pleasant Grove goalkeeper Chris Jenkinson made a mistake. He knew it. His coach knew it. His teammates at Pleasant Grove knew it.

Even the hordes of students that packed Rio Tinto Stadium knew it.

Jenkinson’s mistake cost the Vikings’ boys soccer team a goal in the school’s first-ever state championship match, and Pleasant Grove trailed for as many as 65 minutes against undefeated Herriman, appearing in its second-straight state final.

But the Vikings made up for it — and Jenkinson found all the redemption in the world.

Tyler Ashby scored the equalizer — and the match-winner — and Jenkinson made two penalty-kick saves to lead the Vikings to their first-ever state soccer championship, 4-2 via penalty shootout in the Class 6A state title match Thursday at Rio Tinto Stadium.

“I muffed it up in the beginning and my team continually pulled me back,” Jenkinson said. “It just felt good to get the win and to get what this team deserves. This team deserves more than a win.

“This team is everything. And we’re state champs.”

Carson Ecalono, Cameron Pennock and Talmage Woodhouse also converted a penalty for the Vikings (16-3-2), who won the long-coveted title at a school known for its wrestling and girls volleyball programs.

For the second-straight year, Herriman (19-0-1) fell on penalty kicks to the state champions.

But Jenkinson earned every bit of his two penalty saves. The senior used every inch of his 6-foot, 6-inch — and still growing — frame to keep out Ian Hermes’ try with the Mustangs’ second kick, and then stopped Carter Johnson’s attempt to set up Ashby’s match-winner.

Pleasant Grove goalkeeper Chris Jenkinson makes a save during the Class 6A high school championship game at Rio Tinto Stadium, Thursday, May 24, 2018. (Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)
Pleasant Grove goalkeeper Chris Jenkinson makes a save during the Class 6A high school championship game at Rio Tinto Stadium, Thursday, May 24, 2018. (Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

“I knew I had the shot to win,” Ashby said. “I just looked at the crowd, needed confidence, and I hit it in.”

If the Vikings had confidence in their first state final, they showed it in the shootout. Maybe that’s because Pleasant Grove has practiced penalty kicks for the last month — right up to the pre-snap walk-up, head coach Chris Ecalono explained.

“We had to run sprints for the whole team if one of our first five missed,” Ecalono said. “One time, we had to run a mile — in the last week — because we missed. PKs are all mental.”

Having a 6-foot-6 shot-stopper between the pipes helps, too.

“He made a mistake in the first half, but we told him we’d get it back for him,” Ecalono said. “We did, and he saved our butts in the end.”

Isaac Chance scored the early goal for Herriman, picking off a played ball at the feet of PG goalkeeper Chris Jenkinson and slotting home a sitter with an empty net to give the Mustangs a 1-0 lead 19 minutes into the match.

Herriman controlled the entire first half and kept the Vikings at bay until Ashby equalized with 14 minutes left in regulation. The 5-foot-8 junior cruised through traffic in the box to punch home the Vikings’ first goal of the match in the 66th minute and force the extra session.

After five failed corner kicks in extra time and a near-match-winner via Woodhouse’s header with seconds remaining, the final call came to the shootout.

And when the roaring crowd of 5,000 students — including members of Pleasant Grove’s football, basketball, volleyball, cheer and drill teams — screaming in jubilation, the Vikings emerged victorious.

“PG soccer is not about the Ecalonos. It is much more than that; it’s about the community and the school,” said Ecalono, who has two sons on the team, Carson and Connor. “We made that clear all season long.

“But I’m a proud father. All of them are my sons. I work at the school, I see them every day, and we’ve been able to create a family atmosphere — and that showed. They really love each other.”


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