They know better than to give up. We have been in this situation a couple of times this year, so we knew we could finish this game. —Rachel McCarthy
DRAPER — It took almost ninety minutes of play, all of regulation and an overtime period to decide the winner of Tuesday afternoon’s 6A semifinal match between the American Fork Cavemen and the Layton Lancers, but, thanks to Rachel McCarthy, the Cavemen are heading to the 6A state championship.
The junior midfielder netted the game-winning golden goal, with just under two minutes remaining in overtime, lifting American Fork to a 1-0 victory.
“We wanted it so bad,” McCarthy said. “(American Fork) got here last year but lost in the semifinals, and we didn’t want to repeat it again. We just pushed through and pushed through. We knew that we could do it and we finally did.”
“They just don’t give up,” added Cavemen head coach Derek Dunn. “They know better than to give up. We have been in this situation a couple of times this year, so we knew we could finish this game.”
The Cavemen entered the game clear favorites, thanks in part to their Region 4 title and a 17-1-0 record. American Fork had worked over their playoff opponents as well, defeating Kearns and Northridge by a combined 14 goals.
The Lancers were no slouches, however, having beaten teams the ilk of Syracuse, Davis and Lone Peak this season, and showed it throughout the contest. No Lancer was better than goalkeeper Meg Edwards, who almost certainly would have been the player of the game, if not for McCarthy.
“Their keeper today, she was amazing,” said Dunn. “Haven (the Cavemen goalkeeper) was clutch, but (Edwards) played a great game. She deserves tons of credit.”
At the outset, the teams appeared as matched as could be, fitting for a semifinal match. Over time, the Cavemen began to exert their will, creating more and more scoring opportunities. Chief among those creators was Jamie Shepherd, who time and again set up both McCarthy and Addie Holmstead with one-on-one opportunities against Edwards.
Each time, the Layton goalie was stout between the posts, stopping shot after shot after shot.
That is, until the final attempt of the game.
McCarthy made a back post run, one of many the midfielder made over the course of the contest, and on this occasion was found wide open by freshman teammate Addison Gardner. From there, all that was left was for McCarthy to beat Edwards. This time, as opposed to more than a dozen times before, the Cavemen came out on top.
“It looked like the defense was slowing down and then I saw Addie just bust through the gap,” said McCarthy. “She saw me make my run, was selfless and found me. I just finished it.”
“They deserve to be in the finals,” Dunn said of his team. “I told them (heading in overtime) that it was up to them. They had to decide how the day ends. They didn’t want (the season to end). I didn’t want it to end. They deserve it.”
“We are going to the finals,” added McCarthy. “It’s great.”