SALT LAKE CITY — Skyline goalkeeper Hillary Weixler stood with her arms crossed at the top of the box during her team's 4A girls quarterfinal match against Clearfield.
The Falcons were down to their last gasp, but even during the waning moments couldn’t generate any offensive attacks. So, Weixler patiently waited for action that seldom occurred during the Eagles' 1-0 victory.
“I believe in my defenders and I know they can handle it,” Weixler said after recording her ninth shutout of the season. “I trust they’ll do their jobs.”
Top-ranked Skyline (17-1) took an early 1-0 lead in the 21st minute after Bella Sorenson found the back of the net on an awkward rebound that got away from Clearfield ‘keeper Mckenna Sill, who made several acrobatic saves along the way.
The minimal cushion still appeared to be insurmountable. Clearfield (13-5) rarely created scoring opportunities against the Eagles' formidable defenders. In the 59th minute the Falcons had their best chance to pull even, but Weixler instinctively corralled the ball before the oncoming attack could convert the fast break.
“They had nothing to lose,” Skyline coach Yamil Castillo said. “The pressure was on us winning. We’ve been the No. 1 team for a very long time. We’ve become a target, but we have confidence that we’re going to win the game.”
Despite its clear advantage, Skyline never pulled away. That in large part was attributable to Sill and Clearfield defender Jennae Devereaux. Between the two, 4A’s leading scorer, Holly Daugirda, failed to find the back of the net for the first time this season.
“We missed a lot of shots,” Castillo said. “They have an amazing defender in the back. We knew coming into the game that she’s going to be their playmaker, which she was.”
Daugirda, who entered with 24 goals, had her best opportunity spoiled by an inadvertent trip in the 53rd minute, which allowed Sill to stone Zoe Moses’ ensuing free kick. Sill later made another horizontal save against Daugirda, who had migrated deep into the box in the 62nd minute.
The Eagles' troubles on offense were complicated when their second-leading scorer, Emma Heyn, sustained an apparent concussion.
“That kind of put a little more pressure on us to attack a little bit more conservative,” Castillo said. “I think she’ll be ready for the next game. We’re going to find out and see if it’s a concussion or not. We’re just being very cautious.”
Skyline will play East (13-5) on Tuesday at 1:15 p.m at Juan Diego Catholic High in the 4A semifinals.
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