SANDY — With time running out, Jacqueline Pollard knew exactly what she needed to do — put the ball on frame.
Chances had been tough to come by for both Waterford and Delta throughout Friday’s 2A semifinal, and Pollard knew her 35-yard free kick in the 79th minute was likely the last decent opportunity to break the scoreless deadlock in regulation.
Pollard couldn’t have hit a more perfect shot.
Her driven ball glanced off the finger tips of Delta’s leaping goalie and slipped just under the crossbar as Waterford survived a big scare from Delta for the 1-0 victory at Jordan High School.
“I was really nervous ’cause if I didn’t make it we didn’t have much time to get the goal, and I knew it was a good opportunity,” said Pollard.
With the victory, Waterford advances to its fifth consecutive 2A state championship and will face the winner of the Millard-Summit Academy semifinal at 1:30 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Even though Waterford is back in its customary spot in the final, Waterford coach Tim Dolbin said the excitement never gets old.
“Playing in that stadium is just crazy fun, and I work super hard to try and condition the girls they’re not entitled to anything. As many times as we’ve been there, there’s no entitlement, you have to earn to be there,” said Dolbin. “We try and slam down the overconfidence, arrogance thing, and so far it’s worked and we’ve been ready to play.”
Delta certainly came to play as well and had Waterford under pressure during stretches of Friday’s match.
“They were strong, they were definitely able to pass it around. It was a fun game and a fun challenge,” said Waterford forward Madeleine Morrill.
Delta hit the post in the 13th minute and then had another great opportunity in the 51st minute, but the rebounded shot trickled just wide of the post.
Gradually over the final 15 minutes Waterford started to put Delta under more defensive pressure, and was unlikely not to bag a goal or two prior to Pollard’s heroics.
“I died a thousand heart attacks in that game,” joked Dolbin about the late near misses.
Fortunately for his health, Pollard didn’t make him sweat out overtime and a potential shootout.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company