This is awesome for us because we're showing the community that soccer can compete with the other sports. —Pleasant Grove's Cameron Pennock
PLEASANT GROVE — Pleasant Grove hasn't been known as a soccer school, although players on this year's boys soccer team are earnestly working to change the perception. Their work reached new heights on Friday, as the Vikings got past Copper Hills 1-0 to advance to the semifinal round of the 6A state playoffs.
According to Pleasant Grove coach Chris Ecalono, it's the first time his team has ever made the semifinal round and was quick to lend all the credit to his players for the accomplishment.
One of those players, junior captain Cameron Pennock, kicked through the lone goal on Friday and reflected on his team advancing to the semifinal round.
"This is awesome for us because we're showing the community that soccer can compete with the other sports," Pennock said. "We also want to avenge our basketball team after they lost in the finals. Hopefully we can get there and then do that, and represent the school well like our other sports."
Pennock's goal came off a PK with 20 minutes left in the first half. It came as a result of Talmage Woodhouse being tripped driving to the goal inside the penalty box, with Pennock ultimately topping it off with a well-placed shot to the left corner of the goal.
Turns out Pennock had to make true on the attempt not once, but twice, due to an infraction occurring right before his first attempt, which also found the back of the net in almost the exact same spot as his second.
"I just knew their goalie was a guy who anticipated the shot and would make his move before I really even kicked it," Pennock said. "So I'm confident with attempting the shot where I did and knew if I just struck it well that it would go through."
Plesant Grove's scoring opportunities were limited throughout the match due to the Grizzlies focus on defense and shutting down the Vikings' potent attack.
"They really respected who we are, so it was unlike any match we've played this year," Ecalono said. "They just got everybody behind the ball, and they really didn't change in the second half. They were looking to counter...and they even had four guys back behind just one of our forwards for a lot of the time."
The strategy worked for a lot of the time, with Ecalono quick to credit Copper Hills coach Eddie Moura for his game plan.
As for the second half, the intensity rose, with both teams battling furiously for possession throughout, hoping to stave off elimination. The Grizzlies had their opportunities as well, but a defense led on the backend by 6-foot-6 goalie Chris Jenkinson and Pennock, helped ensure the shutout.
With the win, Pleasant Grove advances to take on rival American Fork this coming Tuesday.
"We've never won region before, either, so this is a great year," Ecalono said.
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