DRAPER — “I saw it as a potential outcome, yeah,” Timpview head coach Eric Brady said when asked if he saw the Thunderbirds' impressive 5-0 semifinal victory over Skyline coming.
He was one of the only ones as his team left a sizable Skyline crowd at Juan Diego High School, along with more than a few nonpartisan observers, speechless. Senior Dakota Smith led the victors with a hat trick, her second in consecutive playoff games, and Jayda Clarke and Alyssa Spackman each netted a second-half goal in the stunning victory.
“We knew our region was tougher than people thought, and I knew we were good and capable. You never plan for this, but I knew we could do this,” added Brady.
For much of the first half it seemed that coach Brady was mistaken. The Eagles, defending 4A champions, controlled possession of the ball and quickly racked up numerous shot attempts. In total, Skyline took five shots, all from outside the box, through just the first 20 minutes of play.
“I thought the first 10 (minutes) we came out better, but after a good 20 minutes or so they tested us with long balls,” Brady said when asked about the Eagles' attack. “We really talked about defense going into this game. We knew they had some good scorers with lots of goals. We talked about being solid defensively and not letting them get behind us. For the most part I think we really kept them contained.”
After the initial Skyline salvo it was all Timpview. Smith got the scoring started for the Thunderbirds with 14 minutes remaining in the half, a goal she said meant the most to her because “I feel like I have never sacrificed my body towards a goal like that.”
Smith followed up her first score with another first-half goal only five minutes later, when she wound her way through the Eagles' defense and delivered the ball past a diving Myah Tatton.
Her final goal came with just under 20 minutes remaining in the game when, after being confronted by a charging Tatton, Smith was able to poke the ball past the Skyline keeper and into the goal.
“She brings that senior poise. I’ve had three years to mold that girl and I’m just so proud of her,” Brady said about the game’s star. “Not that it’s me. It’s her. She just has poise around the goal. We work on that as a team but (Smith) especially comes in like there are no nerves and does the job.”
For her part, Smith was all smiles when asked about her performance. “It feels amazing,” Smith said when asked about her hat trick. “I almost quit the team, for personal reasons, and coming back and having this kind of comeback, scoring three goals in two games (Smith also scored all three Timpview goals in the Thunderbirds' quarterfinal win over Bonneville) just makes me feel amazing. It makes me feel so good to know that my team is behind me and supports me.”
Clarke and Spackman’s goals stretched the Thunderbirds' lead to an insurmountable five goals, but in the end it was all about Smith.
“She didn’t even start,” Brady said of Smith. “She was just fantastic.”
With the win, Timpview (15-4-1) advances to the 4A state champion game, to be held Friday, Oct. 21, at Rio Tinto Stadium, where the Thunderbirds will battle the third-seeded East Leopards.
“I have been waiting all four years for this, and becoming a senior and having my final year at Rio Tinto means so much,” Smith said of the championship game. “We have worked so hard for this.”