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6A soccer semis: Skyridge advances to title game on PKs as Riverton claims 2-1 win in OT

Syracuse and Skyridge play in the 6A soccer semifinals at Juan Diego Catholic High School in Draper on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. Skyridge won in a shootout.

Syracuse and Skyridge play in the 6A soccer semifinals at Juan Diego Catholic High School in Draper on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. Skyridge won in a shootout. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 5-6 minutes

DRAPER — Tensions were high during a physical 6A semifinal matchup at Juan Diego High between No. 5 Skyridge and No. 8 Syracuse with both teams seeking a trip to the state championship game for the first time in their respective schools' history.

But 80 minutes of regulation was not enough to decide which team would be making history — and neither was an additional 20 minutes through two overtimes.

After 100 minutes of cold and wet play, the game went to penalty kicks, and it was the Falcons' preparation for this exact moment that led them to a 4-1 advantage in PKs to solidify the win and a state championship game berth.

"We knew this was going to be a possibility, so for the last probably three weeks we've been working on PKs just to make sure we have it down," Skyridge head coach Toby Peterson said.

"You obviously saw the results: The girls that stepped up and took the shots, they sunk them," Peterson added. "Our keeper, man, for a sophomore, she's shown so much determination, resiliency. She hasn't quit and her experience is just really starting to shine."

Olivia Driggs, Amanda Caswell and Kelena Bellini all calmly sank the Falcons' first three penatly kicks; and after two clutch saves by goalkeeper Emalynn Levingston, Addi Arnell was able to step up and bury the final shot, ending the shootout and the game.

Senior Olivia Barlow scored the lone goal of the first half for Skyridge, which gave her team a slim 1-0 advantage entering the second half.

Following a half where goals were hard to come by, the game opened up during a five minute span when the teams traded back-and-forth goals.

Abby Schofield received a perfect ball streaking up the right sideline and attempted to cross the ball into the middle with a numbers advantage, but got tipped in by Skyridge, evening the score in the 56th minute.

In a short four minutes, freshman Kalena Bellini answered back with a score of her own for the Falcons; and 35 seconds after, Corney Cobabe found the back of the net 20 yards out, tying the game again.

For years, the Utah County high schools of American Fork and Lone Peak, along with Davis, have run girls high school soccer; but with the win, a new Utah County high school will be on their way to Rio Tinto Stadium and have a shot at bringing home a state championship.

"From the very beginning of the season, that's what we've been talking about; that's our No. 1 goal is to make it to the state championship and bring home a trophy," Peterson said. "So the message to the girls is going to be: Celebrate this today, but tomorrow we got more work to do."

It's taken Skyridge six years to develop its team, and six years to make it to the first girls soccer title game. Despite drama and high emotions caused by "naysayers" that said "Skyridge will never do it," the Falcons have always believed and have given themselves an opportunity to cement their team in the history books.

"Our message from the very beginning is no matter what we go up against, and no matter who has a history, we can determine our own history," Peterson said.

"We've got to focus on the details; we've got to focus on the simple things that got us here," he added. "We're not gonna do anything special, no matter what they do … we're just gonna stay focused on things that got us here."

Riverton 2, Layton 1

The game plan Riverton and Layton prepared entering the 6A semifinals was clear in the first minutes of the game: The Lancers tried to slow down the most explosive offense in 6A; and the Silverwolves did anything to stop Erin Bailey, the 6A leader in goals, from scoring.

But it was Erin Naylor who sealed the game in the 86th minute during the first overtime to give Riverton a 2-1 victory over Layton Tuesday afternoon at Juan Diego High.

"They're so happy and so excited; it's amazing to see that," said Riverton head coach Paul Moizer. "They've been a bundle of energy all year, and it's so great to see them this happy."

After a scoreless first half and after multiple shot attempts by Bailey that were just inches from finding their way into the goal, the BYU commit finally got a ball to the back of the net for the Lancers in the 65th minute.

The Silverwolves made her life difficult throughout the game, throwing one, two, and even three defenders at her in an attempt to slow her down.

"She's really a good player, and we made sure that we always had somebody behind whoever was on her just to make sure that we could clean up whatever we could get," Moizer said about his teams' defensive plan. "And even then, she still got one."

Down 1-0 with 11 minutes left in regulation, Riverton senior Taylor O'Farrell buried her fifth goal of the season from 30 yards out to give the Silverwolves their first point of the afternoon and to force the game into overtime.

As Riverton warmed up for the game, they watched Skyridge and Syracuse battle it out through two overtime periods, and they watched from the side as the Falcons edged out the Titans in penalty kicks. But the Silverwolves had other plans and wanted to end the game differently.

The Silverwolves and Lancers went back and forth for six minutes in the first overtime, but the ball eventually ended up with Naylor, who sent a rocket into the bottom right corner of the net, scoring the golden goal to advance her team to the 6A state championship game at Rio Tinto Stadium on Friday.

Like Skyrdige, it will be the first time Riverton has made it to a girls state soccer championship game; but instead of six years, it's taken them over 20 years to get into this position.

"We've had this group, we've had as many of 18 of this senior group, and there's 15 of them now," Moizer said. "From the time they were freshman, they have been talking up, 'Hey, when we're seniors, we're going to be going to the finals,' and now they are, so it's really nice to see that."

Riverton already played Skyridge early in the season and came away with an overtime victory, so the Silverwolves know the Falcons will be looking for revenge Friday.

"We played them earlier in the year; it went to overtime," Moizer said. "We snuck one out in overtime 2-1 … so we know they're going to be a tough, tough team."

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