2A boys soccer: Rowland Hall survives American Heritage, penalties for 2nd title in 3 years

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SANDY — Regulation wasn't enough to separate American Heritage and Rowland Hall in the 2A boys soccer state championship match Saturday afternoon.

Neither were two extra-time periods, or even a penalty shootout.

Brock Paradise's senior season at Rowland Hall started by saving a couple of penalty kicks. It might as well end the same way.

Paradise made six saves during the shootout, and Rowland Hall won its second 2A boys soccer state championship in three years 8-7 on penalty kicks after a scoreless regulation at America First Field.

"It just feels so good to win this one," said Paradise, the Winged Lions' first-year starting goalkeeper. "It's my senior year, and it feels good to bring it home."

It's Rowland Hall's fourth championship overall, including back-to-back titles in 2008 and 2009.

For Paradise and nine other seniors on the squad, the shootout win was fitting for the fifth-seeded Winged Lions (11-6) who held off the second-seeded Patriots (12-3) two days after upsetting the tournament's No. 1 overall seed.

That included Brandt Barker, Tripp Rollins and Zac Bahna, the senior team captain who sent Rowland Hall's fifth penalty attempt over the crossbar before converting the go-ahead spot kick 11 rounds later.

"I had faith in them," Rowland Hall coach Joe Murray said. "I know there were some misses, but that was our third or fourth shootout this season — and this was the first time most of them have missed a penalty kick. I had faith in them."

Added Paradise: "I think it means a lot for the team, this win. That means we're just setting an example for the younger generations."

After a scoreless first half that included a handful of set-piece chances for the Patriots, both teams remained embattled in a scoreless draw through the hour mark.

Mikko Anderson had a free kick from short distance to give Rowland Hall the lead. But the Winged Lions couldn't convert on a free header in the box.

Ditto on a free-kick attempt from the other side of the pitch with three minutes remaining as the ball sailed harmlessly over the crossbar to set up extra time.

Rowland Hall was saved by the post — twice — in the first extra time as two American Heritage free kicks caromed harmless off the woodwork to keep the match at zeroes.

"At that point, I was just hoping we made it to penalties. I feel more comfortable in PKs than I do in extra time — and it seemed to work out."

That was fine by the Lions, too. Each practice for the past two weeks has ended with penalty kicks.

The two sides were tied at two conversions apiece after the usual five rounds of penalties, and worked all the way back through the lineup — 16 rounds in all — before Paradise stopped his American Heritage numerical opposite.

That was how the senior keeper led his team to a 6-0 record in games beyond regulation, including a 2-1 extra-time win over top-seeded St. Joseph in Thursday's semifinals.

"Brock's amazing," Murray said. "He's come into his first season starting on varsity, and he's done an amazing job. He just reads the penalties so well, and you could see it throughout; he times his dives perfectly and does great.

"He's just one of those kids who quietly goes about his business and no fuss at all. He's a great guy."


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