HIGHLAND They're ba'ack!
The Lone Peak Knights had to fight and scratch and claw to remain alive when they faced No. 7 Jordan in the 5A girls soccer quarterfinals Thursday afternoon, but, for the third-straight season, eighth-ranked Lone Peak has made it to the second-to-last round of the 5A tournament.
Sweeper Kami Montgomery and midfielder Cassandra Savage scored off corner kicks within four minutes of one another in the second half, and the Knights erased a one-goal deficit en route to a 2-1 win over Jordan and a date with top-ranked Brighton in next Tuesday's semifinals.
Because it lost eight starters to graduation a season ago, many didn't know what to expect from Lone Peak this fall. However, the Knights have come up roses again.
"It's so nice. I'm just proud of these guys for stepping up," said coach Mike LaHargoue. "A lot of new girls (stepped) up in leadership positions (and) on-field positions, and really (contributed). I think it says a lot to these gals. It's phenomenal."
From the first kick of the game to the final whistle, momentum sea-sawed between both teams.
Lone Peak stormed out of the gates in the first 15 minutes, but Jordan came into the game after that and jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Haley Hansen drilled a shot past the outstretched fingertips of Lone Peak 'keeper Raven King.
The Knights largely controlled the rest of the fist half, while Jordan had another nice spell of play to begin the second half.
Ultimately, however, the game's decisive stretch proved to be just after that.
First, Montgomery skied to majestically head home an Emily Belnap corner kick in the 61st minute, leveling the score at 1-1.
Four minutes later, the Knights took the lead for good.
Off another corner kick, Savage swooped at the near post. Her initial effort was clawed away, but she latched onto her own rebound and bundled it into the net.
From there, the Knights did just enough to hang on.
Montgomery, who marshaled Lone Peak's backline, said one of the keys for Lone Peak is that it didn't panic when it fell behind.
"We kept pounding it down no matter what," she said.
Another key for the Knights is that they finally found a way to beat Jordan's stellar goalkeeper, Kirsten Anderson.
On this day, there was little question about who the star of the show was. Anderson made a number of stellar saves, including one in which she somehow managed to tip a dipping long-range shot by Shantel Flanary over the bar.
"That 'keeper did a great job," said LaHargoue. "... She made a handful of great saves that we're not accustomed to having those saved, to be honest."
At the other end, LaHargoue praised Montgomery and Co. for keeping Jordan's star sophomores Chelsie Sperry and Libby Lundquist relatively quiet.Next, Lone Peak will attempt to reach the 5A final for the third time in as many seasons. The Knights will face Brighton Tuesday morning at Juan Diego Catholic High, beginning at 11 a.m.