I never know who I’m going to pick in shootouts. It’s part gut instinct, and sometimes players come up to me and say they want to do it. That certainly made it easier. —Waterford coach George Shirley

DRAPER — Sophomore goalkeeper Morgan Lopez likely picked up several votes for the all-state soccer team

Lopez seemed like a magician in the net Friday evening and had Waterford and Layton Christian Academy fans raving about his efforts, but it was Alex Aguirre’s penalty kick that ended up being the difference in the 2A semifinal at Juan Diego Catholic High School.

Aguirre put the finishing touch on a long, scoreless match that boosted the Ravens into today’s 7:30 p.m. championship against the only team to beat them so far, Region 16 rival Rowland Hall-St. Marks — at RSL Academy’s complex in Herriman.

Lopez said he lost track how many shots he stopped, but a good estimate would be about 20, several at point-blank range. Several others bounced off the goal post, sailed wide and a teammate saved another by kicking the ball away after it got past Lopez but before it crossed the line during the fast-paced 80-minute match on Juan Diego’s artificial surface.

Lopez then kept the Eagles scoreless during a pair of 10-minute overtime periods, forcing the shootout, which Waterford won 4-3.

Lopez stopped two of LCA’s first four penalty kicks, but LCA’s Jesus Tomasi snuck his shot into the net that forced Aguirre to make the deciding play.

“It’s a terrible way to end a game like this, but it was a great game and it’s exactly why they call this ‘the beautiful game,’” said Waterford coach George Shirley. “I never know who I’m going to pick in shootouts. It’s part gut instinct, and sometimes players come up to me and say they want to do it.

“That certainly made it easier.”

Aguirre fired his hot into the lower left-hand corner, past LCA keeper Thiago Nava and immediately fell onto his back when he realized the ball had gone through, and his teammates ignored the cool, rainy conditions that plagued both semifinal games.

“We thought that if we could extend the game, we could out-condition them,” said Shirley. “But he had to work through a lot to get there.”

“I never felt lucky,” said Lopez. “I just thought I was usually in the right position to make the play. LCA had some incredible shots. We just made ours at the end.”

Rowland Hall-St. Mark's 2, Beaver 0

Trey Provost and Jesus Lamas scored goals for the Winged Lions, and senior John Dreyfuss had an easy time in this early 2A semifinal.

Provost gave Rowland Hall the lead late in the first half. With a strong north wind at his back, his shot skipped along the wet surface and somehow slipped through the keeper’s hands. When the teams switched ends, the more-emotional Beavers had the wind at their back and were looking for momentum, but Lamas quickly lifted his shot high into the back of the net.

Beaver only threatened occasionally and Dreyfuss used his 6-foot-3 frame to make his job look easy.

“Our defense was great,” Dreyfuss said. “They didn’t get many shots and anything they did get was way in front of me.”

Bruce Smith grew up in Boise, Idaho, and is a longtime newspaper sports writer. He writes primarily high-school sports articles for the Deseret News.