SALT LAKE CITY — Sometimes it is good to just be lucky.
After battling through a handful of internal and external challenges over the past few weeks, the East High girls soccer team was feeling the benefits of a couple of fortuitous moments Thursday, defeating Region 6 foe Woods Cross 5-1.
“Sometimes Lady Luck smiles on you and sometimes she doesn’t,” said head coach Rudy Schenk. “It’s been a rough season so far and we haven’t had a whole lot of fortunate bounces — today we got some.”
The first 74 minutes of the match were closely contested, and East (4-3, 3-2 in Region 5) held just a 2-1 lead with six minutes to go. Senior Anna Papadopoulos gave the Leopards the early lead with a goal in the 36th minute, and then Claire Thomas extended the halftime lead when she collected a pass from Janie Kearl and scored on a fast break in stoppage time.
“We just talked, going into the second half, about winning the 50/50 balls and continuing to try and play hard and possess,” Schenk said, “and that’s what we did, so I’m proud of the girls.”
Eden Jacobsen dribbled past the East goalkeeper and tapped in the Wildcats’ goal midway through the second half, and it looked as if Woods Cross was poised to then tie the score.
Instead, junior Isabel Austin, freshman Jill Bennett and junior Nell Stevens invoked the lucky bounces and knocked in three quick goals to put the game out of reach.
“The funny thing,” the coach said of the three goals in six minutes, “is we had some lucky goals and then the goals we worked for we missed.”
Austin’s shot was from a deep corner that took a lucky bounce past the goalkeeper and into the net; Bennett scored after receiving a pass on a give-and-go; and Stevens was the beneficiary of another favorable bounce.
“They’re a quality team,” Schenk said of Woods Cross (3-4, 3-2). “They’re better than a 5-1 game. They’re a good team, and I’m sure it will be a different story when we go to their place.”
The Leopards and Wildcats are now tied with Highland for third place in the region standings with nine points apiece and identical league records. Schenk said Thursday’s win was a great step forward for the East squad.
“We had a rough week last week,” he said, “and they responded with some good practices and we did a nice job today.”
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.
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