WOODS CROSS Jennifer Flynn didn't feel nervous or wish she could be somewhere else when she lined up for a crucial second-half penalty kick.
Sure, momentum bounced back and forth more than a tennis ball up to that point. But this was the type of situation Flynn and her Juan Diego teammates practiced for and prepared for on an almost-daily basis.
Flynn's shot hit home in the 52nd minute and gave the Soaring Eagle enough of a cushion to outlast Hurricane 3-2 on Friday afternoon in the 3A girls soccer semifinals at Woods Cross High.
The penalty kick didn't go down the way the sophomore forward imagined. Tigers goalkeeper Chantelle Whiting got her fingertips on the ball inside the net, making everything feel a little too close for comfort.
"After I scored, I thought, 'That was really close,"' Flynn said. "Especially since we've been working on them, and that wasn't how I worked on it."
Flynn's penalty kick goal helped Juan Diego reach the 3A championship game for a second consecutive year. After suffering a close loss to Dixie in last year's final, the Soaring Eagle are eager to get another shot to prove themselves.
Especially since, for many of the players, it's the last chance they will get.
"We have a ton of seniors on the team this year, and we just really want to win it for them," Flynn said. "It's their last year playing, and we're trying to get (a title) for them."
Juan Diego first needed to survive an upset bid by Hurricane. The Tigers had not done much in the preseason but quickly came alive once they hit the playoffs. And they didn't make things easy on the Soaring Eagle.
Nicole Woodbury gave Hurricane a quick 1-0 lead in the 8th minute with a floater from 25 yards out, taking advantage of a positioning error by goalkeeper Jenna Speare. Woodbury also tied the game up in the 43rd minute, dropping the ball in from five yards away after the Soaring Eagle defense failed to capitalize on a pair of chances to clear the ball out.
Fortunately for Juan Diego, its offense could match the Tigers goal for goal. Olivia Wee tied the game in the 15th minute, after heading in a cross from Heidi Laabs-Johnson. Then Anna Jung scored on an open net in the 26th minute to put the Soaring Eagle ahead 2-1.
Jung found herself in perfect scoring position after Whiting came out to block a drive by Kylee Brown and the ball ricocheted to her.
Soaring Eagle coach Jamie Schock said facing Hurricane served as perfect preparation for today's championship."We knew Hurricane was going to be a much different team than what we played in the preseason," Schock said. "They showed that. They were definitely a worthy team to be in the semis."
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