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DRAPER — Omar Khan didn’t think it was going to drop.
When the Summit Academy junior launched a shot from near 25 yards out, it seemed like a Hail Mary attempt.
“He hits those all the time, it was just a matter of getting him open,” Summit Academy coach Troy Stroud said.
With under 24 minutes, Khan had an opening. He turned and let fire a shot that he thought was on its way well over the crossbar. Then the ball started dropping and dropping and it dipped right into the top left corner.
That goal was enough to give Summit Academy a 1-0 win over South Summit in the 3A semifinals Thursday at Juan Diego High School.
“I usually don’t take those, but I don’t know, I had a feeling,” Khan said.
The win sent Summit Academy to their first state championship game — something that the players were all too aware of entering Thursday’s match.
“It’s a crazy feeling to lead the team and be with my brothers out there and go to the finals,” Khan said.
But getting there was a struggle.
It was a game that didn’t feature many premium scoring chances, especially for Summit Academy. South Summit controlled possession for the majority of the game, especially in the midfield. That meant the Bears were mostly reliant on free kicks and corners to get near the goal.
And all that possession still didn’t result in many scoring chances for the Wildcats. South Summit struggled to get quality shots in the final third and that left the door open for the Bears.
A door that might have been 25 yards out, but one that Kahn was able to sneak the ball through.
“I can’t describe it,” Stroud said. “It’s amazing. It’s a special group of guys. They’ve been here since their freshman year, most of them. And they worked hard.”
Judge Memorial 5, American Leadership Academy 2
DRAPER — Judge Memorial coach Kelly Terrill gave his team a little reminder when the defending 3A champions were in the midst of a three-game losing streak.
“I told them there’s not a black cloud hanging over the team, you just have to pick it up,” Terrill said.
The team didn’t need much convincing, though.
Yeah, the Bulldogs might have a slow stretch, they might not have won the Region 13 championship and they did have to deal with some injuries. But make no mistake, they thought they were still the same championship team.
On Thursday in the 3A semifinals, they proved just that.
Judge smashed American Leadership Academy 5-2 to advance to the 3A title game. And this trip to the final will be a little more special. The reason: They’ll get to play in Rio Tinto Stadium.
“That’s what the really want,” Terrill joked.
Or maybe he wasn't joking. They proved just that on Thursday.
After a slow start — where Judge did get an own goal eight minutes into the game — the Bulldogs looked near unstoppable.
Jack Terrill scored with six minutes left in the half and then put Judge up 3-0 with another goal 10 seconds after halftime.
And even after American Leadership Academy got one back with just under 29 minutes remaining, Judge responded with two more goals.
“Last year, we were motivated coming off the winless season,” Jack Terrill said. “Last year, we were a lot more motivated throughout the whole thing. This year we came out a little cocky. I know you guys know we lost three games in a row. This year, after the first few games, we kind of woke up, got back together, and we are going to the final.”