High school boys soccer: Top-seeded Skyline does damage early in 1st-round win over Judge
SALT LAKE CITY — It took just seven minutes for the Skyline boys soccer team to do all the damage on Wednesday afternoon.
The Region 7 champions knocked in two quick goals and then held on for the 2-0 victory over Judge Memorial, advancing to the quarterfinal round of the 4A tournament.
"It's a completely different style of play when we go into those playoffs," Skyline coach Shawn Kennedy said. "You never know who's going to come out on top. Sometimes the ball rolls your way, sometimes it doesn't."
The ball did in fact roll in favor of the Eagles on their home field.
In just the third minute, junior Jack Dahlstrom sent the first score into the corner of the net and then, just four minutes later, junior Nate Jensen found his way through a mob of players for the second goal.
"Any goal is a game plan; we love to score goals. We've been very fortunate that we don't rely on just one goalscorer," Kennedy said, noting the team's 11 different scorers.
"We have several boys who have been doing great work up on the top end for us," the coach said. "As long as we can keep them playing together and on the same pass-and-move possession style we try to maintain, I think we'll do really well."
Although the Eagles continued to play wall throughout the game, the Bulldogs regrouped in the second half and generated multiple opportunities to score. Those shots, including one that was stopped right on the goal line, tested the Skyline defense and goalkeeper Will DeSantis.
"Judge came back in the second half and put a lot of pressure on the defense and got a couple good crosses in," Kennedy said. "Our goalie came up with some good saves and then they did a good job of maintaining composure at the end."
The coach added that the Skyline defensive line has been pushed throughout the season, and is better because of those tests.
"Our defense has been able to maintain a lot of the shutouts over the season," Kennedy said of the team's nine shutouts, which were split between DeSantis and Mitchell Melville.
"Will was great in the net today. He has great reflexes. He's able to read the ball very well," the coach said. "The team feels comfortable having him back there. I thought he did a great job today."
Heading into the game, the pairing between the top-seeded Eagles and Region 6 No. 4 Judge looked much closer than a typical one-versus-four matchup. Skyline was coming into the playoffs after losing its final two region games, one to Murray and one to Olympus. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, entered the game with a win over top-ranked East in their not-so-distant past.
"I didn't know much about Judge, but I know they've had some talented players and you just never know which one is going to break free and possibly score," Kennedy said. "Overall, I'm very proud of (my players') effort as a group. I'm excited they're able to move on. It's been a long time since Skyline's had this opportunity."
With the win, the Eagles earned a chance to host Salem Hills, which defeated Roy, 2-1, Tuesday. That quarterfinal game will take place Friday at 4 p.m. and is the first second-round game for the Skyline boys soccer team since 2005.
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.