SANDY — Park City keeper Skye Mooney had made every save possible against Ogden. She finger-tipped a one-on-one attempt, deflected several straightaways and turned back eight corner-kick opportunities. Not to mention, she stoned a well-placed penalty kick, too.
But, it was the one that nearly got away that proved to be the highlight of the season for the Miners in their 1-0 victory over Ogden in the 3A semifinals on Friday.
Trailing by a single goal, Ogden's Avery Calton, who entered the match at Jordan High Friday with 18 goals, ballooned a shot over Mooney as the two collided, well ahead of the rest of the pack. As Calton pulled herself from the turf she had an empty net square away.
However, charging from the 35-yard line, sophomore defender Paula Garcia pushed forward and met Calton between the posts and ultimately prevented the goal that was closer than a fresh shave.
"I just saw the ball rolling really slowly to the goal and I was like, 'they can't score' and I just sprinted," Garcia said. "I was happy once it was over."
From that point forward, Park City (17-0-2) staged off an aggressive surge from the top ranked Tigers (17-1) for the final 15 minutes to end Ogden's 33-game winning streak and advance to the 3A state championship Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium against Snow Canyon (15-2) at 1:30 p.m.
"Defensive instincts and following through on the play," Park City coach Chip Cook said of the save. "Everything they've been taught their whole lives with soccer — never give up on a play. She followed through and thank you, Paula."
Mooney, who recorded her 10th shutout of season, quickly praised Garcia, too.
"It was amazing," she said. "She was awesome – that's the whole team committing right there. That's Paula just being there."
At the 16-minute mark, Park City's Jessica Dancy snuck behind the Ogden defense and feathered a blooper into the lefthand corner for the 1-0 advantage. It was Dancy's 16th netter of the year.
The goal marked the first time Ogden, the defending 3A champs, trailed since Aug. 27 and was just the seventh goal allowed all season.
"I'm feeling ecstatic to be moving onto the finals. This has been a great team all year. They've never given up once," Cook said. "This was a strong Ogden team and we had to fight for this win and like they've been doing all year they did.
"These girls have had a never-say-die attitude all year — we just love them for it. We're excited to get back to Rio Tinto and proud to have beaten Ogden because they were the best team in the state."
Mooney, after containing the second highest scoring team in 3A, the fourth leading scorer in the state, and more importantly avenging a semifinal loss to Ogden last season, struggled containing her emotions.
"I'm really happy," she said. "We had this game last year and we lost — I'm just so stoked right now. I'm so proud of the team, it wasn't our cleanest game, but we made it happen. We're ready for (Saturday)."
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