RIVERTON — When Hailey Skolmoski eyes an opportunity, she does not relent in her pursuit.
Fortunately for the Riverton Silverwolves soccer team, the ball was in her possession in the final moments of their overtime contest with fifth-ranked Lone Peak on Tuesday afternoon.
The junior forward controlled the ball in front of the Knights’ goal, battled being knocked down and then losing possession only to regain the ball a third time and send it to the corner of the net for the golden goal in the 4-3 region victory.
“She doesn’t quit. Ever,” head coach Paul Moizer said of the 87th-minute score. “She’ll chase everything. You could see that in the last play.”
The play eased Moizer’s worries after the Silverwolves lost a player due to a red card with the score tied and just two minutes remaining in regulation.
“When we went down a player, I’m thinking we’re just holding on,” the coach said. “You get one good chance, and Hailey finished it.”
Lone Peak coach Heather Dahl said that the Knights knew Skolmoski was a threat.
“In overtime, she just kept fighting for it and we didn’t,” Dahl said. “We kind of left her, and if you don’t fight with Hailey for the ball, she’ll keep fighting and finish it.”
The coach added that, in spite of the loss, throughout the match she felt her team was in control.
“I really felt like we dominated that game possession-wise,” Dahl said. “We moved the ball really well. We had a little breakdown. That’s our own mistake. We definitely had many opportunities that we didn’t finish.”
Riverton initiated the slew of goals in the high-scoring match when junior Kirsten Spencer snuck behind the defense in the 15th minute. Just 15 minutes later, Lone Peak junior Natalie Lewis evened the score.
Lone Peak junior Kylee Parke found the net in the 65th minute to give the Knights their only lead of the game, an advantage they held for just seven minutes before Spencer scored with another long shot.
“Both their second and third goals came from that back corner,” Dahl said of Riverton. “The sun’s in (goalkeeper Cassidy Smith’s) eyes, and just high floaters that dropped into that back post.”
The Knights nearly nullified the Riverton scores with their own goal in the early moments of overtime. The team had a shot that was right on line until midfielder Marissa Johnson appeared and got her foot on the ball. After the game, Silverwolves goalkeeper Bre Empey found Johnson and thanked her for saving the day.
The Riverton victory, which left the Silverwolves and Lone Peak with Region 4 records of 2-0 and 2-1, respectively, means the teams are tied at the top of the league standings with six points apiece. With 10 games still left on the Region 4 schedule, Moizer knows the experience of a back-and-forth victory will serve his team well.
“It’s one of those you just don’t quit until the end,” he said. “All of our region games, I think, are going to be kinda like that. It’s a really strong region top to bottom, and you just gotta play all the way through it.”
Sarah Thomas earned a degree in Mathematics from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing an MBA at Westminster College. She has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008.