High school girls soccer: Bountiful Braves turn back Skyline Eagles to reach 4A final
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
DRAPER — It was the Bountiful offense that scored the only goal of the game in the 4A semifinal matchup against Skyline.
But it was the Braves' defense that really saved the day.
The top seed out of Region 6 withstood a surging Skyline offense in the final 10 minutes to defeat the Eagles, 1-0, in the state tournament game at Juan Diego Catholic High School on Tuesday evening.
"That was a testament to the fact that Skyline is not going to roll over and go down easy," Bountiful coach Lou Plank said. "It was a nail-biter right there at the end."
Jenny Skedros scored the Braves' goal in the 17th minute of the game. She sent the ball to the right corner of the net, and Skyline goalkeeper Alli Spencer was there to save it. However, in the pouring rain, the wet ball spun out of Spencer's hands, hit the post, and rolled into the goal before she could recover.
"Our goal was a bobbled ball and we got lucky on that," Plank said, adding that it was nice to avenge the Braves' shootout loss to the Eagles in last year's quarterfinals.
"Ever since that loss to Skyline last year in the quarterfinals, we felt that was something that shouldn't have happened. We felt we owned that match and then right at the end we let it slip through our fingers — which nearly happened here."
After controlling the time of possession throughout the game, the Braves relented slightly at the end. Skyline controlled the tempo of the contest for the final 10 minutes, and nearly scored on multiple occasions.
"We call that the 'Charity Special,' " Plank joked, referring to goalkeeper Charity Cole's desperate save when she bobbled the ball and caught it between her ankles at the last second. "I would like to say she practiced that. We have to credit Skyline for giving a big push there at the end when we were getting a little tired."
Midway through the first half, Bountiful senior Kennedy Merrick left the game with an injury and didn't return for the rest of the contest. Plank was disappointed to lose his second-leading scorer but, at the same time, was pleased with how his team filled in when she went to the sideline.
"Kennedy is an amazing player and it breaks my heart to see her go out in the tournament. I hope we'll have here for Rio Tinto for the finals," he said. "But this is a team with no stars. It's a team with a lot of cogs that mesh really, really well together. That's one of the nice things about this team, the diversity of skill. We pull a player out, we plug another one in a different part of our system and we don't drop off."
The Braves will need that team system when they meet Bonneville in the championship match on Friday. The Lakers defeated Woods Cross, 3-1, in Tuesday's other 4A semifinal, but it will be the first time they match up with Bountiful this season.
At Jordan High School
Wasatch vs. Snow Canyon, 11 a.m.
Park City vs. Ogden, 1:15 p.m.
Maeser Prep vs. Waterford, 3:45 p.m.
St. Joseph vs. Manti, 6 p.m.
At Rio Tinto Stadium
Viewmont vs. Alta, 4:30 p.m.
Bonneville vs. Bountiful, 7 p.m.