ST. GEORGE — It was the biggest save of her life.
With the game on the line, Snow Canyon sophomore keeper Megan Rodgers dove to her right and punched the ball off the line to give the Warriors a 4-2 penalty shot victory over Logan Saturday afternoon.
With the victory, Snow Canyon will now head north and make its third consecutive appearance in the state semifinals. The top-seeded Warriors will take on the Bonneville Lakers, the No. 1 seed out of Region 11, on Friday at 3:45 p.m. at Hillcrest High School. The winner will then play in Saturday’s 4A championship game at Rio Tinto Stadium.
“It feels so good to be able to get back to the semifinals,” Rodgers said. “We definitely have some unfinished business to do.”
After a scoreless game and after two overtimes, the game came down to penalty kicks.
Kira Boettcher took the first kick and put the ball into the back of the net. Logan’s Kaycee Larsen then went top corner with the ball crossing the line before bouncing out. Snow Canyon’s Ashley Brindley shot did nearly the same as the junior hit the top of the post before bouncing down and crossing the line to put the Warriors up 2-1.
Rodgers then made one of her two penalty saves on the day as she made a great diving save to stop a shot by Logan’s Kennedy Michel. After goals by Arantxa Melendez and Jacie Mooring that pushed the Warriors' lead to 4-2, Logan senior Megan Hollingsworth stepped up to kick.
Once again, Rogers anticipated where the ball was going to go and made another leaping save to give Snow Canyon the victory.
“We practice penalty shots all the time in practice and I went in pretty confident,” Rodgers said. “At the same time, I just kept thinking of making sure I didn’t mess up for the seniors because I did not want to let them down.”
But the only letdown was on the face of the Grizzly players as they not only lost a heartbreaking game, but also faced the long ride back home up north to Cache Valley.
“After region play ended we spent about 20 minutes in practice just working on penalty kicks,” said Snow Canyon head coach Kenny Kunde. “I’ve been a part of some crazy playoff games and a lot of times it comes down to penalty kicks and you have to be ready. That’s why we focused so much on it in practice and it definitely paid off for us.”
Snow Canyon nearly put the game away in overtime in the 88th minute on a corner kick by Melendez. Brielle Hoskins got away from her defender and headed the ball near post as the ball flew toward the goal. However, Logan keeper Siuana Pauni made one of several saves on the day to send the game into double overtime.
Justin Giles is an award-winning sports reporter and is currently working on his master's degree in sports management with an emphasis in sports administration.