LEHI — After an intense and emotional 100 minutes of soccer (80 minutes of regulation and two 10 minute overtime periods), in the bitter cold of an absurd Utah spring day no less, the Skyline Eagles and Skyridge Falcons had played to a 0-0 draw. Seeing as how it was the opening round of the 4A state tournament, however, the game could not end without a victor, which of course necessitated that dreaded part of soccer: penalty kicks.
It was there that Skyline goalkeeper Tommy Jensen capped off an excellent performance, stopping not one but two shots to give the Eagles a 4-2 victory. (Skyridge defender Benjamin Driggs actually attempted three penalty kicks after Jensen was ruled to have vacated his position on the end line — twice. Jensen stopped the first and final attempts, while the second shot clanked harmlessly off the crossbar).
“This whole team just did so much work. I just had to do it for the team,” said Jensen. “I thought I was on that line, but it is what it is. I just had to do whatever I had to do to save those goals.”
The penalty kick dramatics merely capped off what can only be described as playoff soccer. A combined six yellow cards, two red cards, and numerous other fouls were evidence.
“It felt more like a final than an inner region playoff,” said Skyline head coach Shawn Kennedy. “Our team is very emotional, so we weren’t sure how they would handle a playoff situation. We knew that Skyridge was a very competent and skilled team, so we were a little worried about how we would handle the pressure. I thought our boys did pretty well. They played wonderfully.”
Early in the game it certainly appeared that the pressure would get to the Eagles. From the outset the Falcons were on the attack, with forward Jaxon Sorensen registering a shot on goal less than two minutes into the game. Through the first 20 minutes of play, Skyridge attempted eight shots to just two by Skyline. Fortunately for the Eagles, Jensen occupied the goal. The junior stopped five of the eight Skyridge shots, including four by Sorensen.
“(Tommy) actually thought he broke his thumb on that first save,” said Kennedy. “We pulled him off and had the trainer look at him at halftime. They wrapped him up and I asked him if he wanted to go back in, and he said, 'I want to go for this.' That says a lot about our goalkeeper and captain.”
After the initial barrage, Skyline made some much needed defensive adjustments, limiting the opportunities for attack by the Skyridge forwards.
From that point on the game was a stalemate, with neither side able to make much headway. Emotions began to flare soon after, with yellow cards waved followed by a pair of overtime dismissals.
As the end of the second overtime period drew near, each side had one final chance to end the game before penalty kicks, but, fittingly, both free kicks sailed over the crossbar.
As the visitors, the Eagles were first to attempt a penalty shot, which senior Zack Warburton calmly drove past Skyridge keeper Andrew Witt.
Sorensen was next for the hosts, but his shot, like so many in the game, was batted away by Jensen.
Trailing 4-2, Driggs stepped into the box and the rest is history.