High school soccer: Waterford Ravens take care of business, advance to 2A state championship
SANDY — It wasn't pretty. It certainly wasn't ideal. But at the end of the day, Waterford accomplished what it set out to do in the girls' 2A semifinals at Jordan High — masterpiece or not.
The Ravens advanced to the 2A girls' state championship after knocking off Maeser Prep, 2-1, for the second time this season. Waterford will face St. Joseph at 4 p.m. Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium.
"Well, we didn't play well in my opinion. I mean we did some good things, obviously, but we really didn't play well," said Waterford coach Tim Dolbin. "In a situation like this you're glad to get through and look forward to the next one."
It was the first time this season Waterford overcame a deficit to win.
"This is the first game that we've won this season coming from behind. That's a nice breakthrough going into (Saturday) if we find ourselves down by a goal," Dolbin said. "It's very easy to sell that to the girls. I think we gained some critical experience and that's a positive coming out of this game."
An obstacle facing most of the teams Friday was the playing surface. With a slick turf and smaller boundaries it was proved difficult to make the adjustment.
"This surface for this team, this year, gives us a really difficult time. It's extremely fast and you've got to have ball handlers across the board in order to play well," Dolbin said. "We knew we were going to be struggling in that way and that's really what it came down to. I wanted us to control the ball better on that surface."
Maeser Prep (5-8) gained the upper hand early on when Andrea Decker received a penalty kick opportunity after the Ravens were whistled for an inadvertent tripping. Dolbin said, "it was a legit call and I thought they deserved a PK."
Decker capitalized, tempting right and firing to the left corner to put Maeser up 1-0 only five minutes into the game.
The Ravens (11-5-1), dictating the flow defensively, finally found the net when sophomore Grace Sponaugle equalized with a penalty kick of her own.
Shortly thereafter, Sponaugle came through, just as she has throughout her short career, once again off a corner kick. It was her eighth netter of the year.
"She's a great player, I mean everybody knows that. She's a great player — plain and simple and every chance we have for a corner kick or service in the middle we bring her out of the back," Dolbin said. "That's kind of a strategy thing that we decide on the spot. She's dangerous — hopefully none of the other teams will have an answer for her."