PROVO Ten minutes into extra time, Rowland Hall scored a golden goal to beat St. Joseph 2-1 and win the 2A state soccer championship on Saturday.
For the sixth time in two seasons, the Winged Lions faced St. Joseph. Prior to the championship game, Rowland Hall had come out on top only once in those six matchups, being swept in the regular season both years. This time, the Winged Lions managed to put that aside and won the run of play before winning the game.
After taking a second-half lead, Rowland Hall conceded an equalizer, but fought back and got the winning goal from J.B. Park just before the first extra period ended.
"We just kept playing," said Winged Lions coach Bobby Kennedy. "Normally our mental toughness is not something I would hang my hat on, but I think we're maturing a little."
Rowland Hall had a leg up in experience on Saturday. Last year the team was soundly beaten in the championship game and came back looking for another chance. Having another shot at the Jayhawks gave the Winged Lions one more thing to shoot for.
"Since we lost both times in the regular season, we started this game really wanting to win," said Park. "I'm really glad I scored that goal."
After a scoreless first half mostly void of scoring chances, Saturday's title game started to open up. Rowland Hall had success finding space in the middle of the field all afternoon, and went ahead in the 61st minute on Jared Accettura's goal. The junior forward made a solo run from midfield all the way into the box and got around one defender before hitting the target.
But the lead was short-lived. Six minutes later, the always dangerous Benjamin Cilwick muscled his way onto the end of a Dino Soto free kick and headed the ball across the goal into the far corner. It was the first goal the Winged Lions had conceded in the tournament.
"We talked about their ability to score on set pieces," said Kennedy. "I think we limited their opportunities more so than we have in the past, but we lost a little composure."
Spaces continued to open and the game was end-to-end all the way into overtime. The golden goal came as Alex Marker sent a cross in from deep in the corner. The goalkeeper missed it coming off his line, and Park was all alone at the far post."I saw Alex Marker go into the corner and cross it," said Park. "I honestly didn't think I was going to get the ball. It skipped one person and I just headed it in."
MVP: Jared Accettura, Rowland Hall
Forwards: David Armendariz, ALA; Oliver DelCarlo, St. Joseph
Midfielders: Robbie Hull, Rowland Hall; Ben Cilwick, St. Joseph; Dino Soto, St. Joseph; Raleigh Cornwell, St. Joseph; James Page, South Summit
Defenders: Donny White, Rowland Hall; Brendan Hovsepian-Kelly, Rowland Hall; Taylor Gallegos, St. Joseph
Goalkeeper: Mark Howerton, St. Joseph