It feels really good to get what this team deserves. This team deserves a championship more than anything. —Pleasant Grove goalkeeper Chris Jenkinson
SANDY — Eighteen minutes into Thursday afternoon's 6A boys state soccer championship game, played between the Pleasant Grove Vikings and the Herriman Mustangs, Pleasant Grove goalkeeper Chris Jenkinson made a mistake.
On this stage, at Rio Tinto Stadium, and against the undefeated and nationally ranked Mustangs, it qualified as a potential title-costing mistake.
In an attempt to quash an early Mustangs scoring threat, by Herriman forward Isaac Chance, Jenkinson came off his line.
Instead of corralling the ball safely, he allowed it to slip away from him, straight to Chance, who put it into the empty net.
“I muffed it up,” Jenkinson said. “I made a huge mistake.”
Nearly 80 minutes later, during penalty kicks, he more than made up for it.
Jenkinson made two massive saves during penalty kicks, holding the Mustangs to just two goals.
His team would go on to win the shootout 4-2 and with it claim a 1-1 (4-2) decision and the 6A state title.
“To be in that position, it just feels really good to get the win,” Jenkinson said. “It feels really good to get what this team deserves. This team deserves a championship more than anything.”
“He made a mistake in the first half,” Pleasant Grove coach Chris Ecalono added. “We told Chris we’d get it back for him and we did. Then he saved our butts in the end.”
It was fitting that the contest between the Vikings and Mustangs would go to penalty kicks.
Both teams were region champs, both teams boasted one of the most talented rosters in the state — prior to the playoffs both Ecalono and Herriman coach Ryan Mitchell spoke to that — and thanks to Jenkinson and Herriman keeper JD Myers, both teams were among the top five in the classification in goals allowed.
Above all, however, both teams were looking for their first state title in school history.
At the outset, the Mustangs were the ones primed to make a historic breakthrough. They dominated possession and had the Vikings uncomfortable throughout the first half, the low point for Pleasant Grove being the Chance goal.
“You have to give credit to Herriman,” Ecalono said. “They were 19-0 and have a great coach and great players. They got us out of our rhythm in the first half. They got the better of us.”
The second half was a different story, as the Vikings flipped the script.
“We adjusted in the second half and played with more speed in the middle,” said Ecalono. “We were going to the post, going out wide, JD (Myers) made some spectacular saves to keep them in it.”
The one save Myers didn’t make in regulation came courtesy of Tyler Ashby. The Viking defender found the back of the net in the 54th minute, tying the game at one goal apiece.
The teams would take that 1-1 score into overtime, one 10-minute period followed by another.
The Vikings were in control throughout.
“We felt we had all the momentum heading into overtime and we were able to keep our stamina,” Ecalono said.
The Vikings had a chance for the win in the final seconds on a header by Talmage Woodhouse, but the attempt bounced off the crossbar.
Pleasant Grove was confident heading into the shootout, and for good reason.
“We’d practiced PKs for the last month,” said Ecalono. “It paid off.”
For no one more than Jenkinson.
“PKs have never been my strong suit, but I felt confident going into it,” said Jenkinson. “Confidence is a big key in PKs and I was able to pull it off.”
Jenkinson stopped attempts by Ian Hermes and Carter Johnson, in between goals by Dallas May and Myers, while his teammates Carson Ecalono, Ashby, Cameron Pennock and Woodhouse each managed to best Myers.
Ashby was the final Viking to attempt a penalty kick, and when his shot found the back of the net, it was over. The Vikings were state champs.
“It feels amazing, said Ashby. “I knew where we were, I knew we had a shot to win. I just looked at the crowd and I put it in.”
“Pleasant Grove is a special place. It is a special community,” added Ecalono. “Everyone supports each other. Look at everyone out here. We are one huge community and you can’t put into words what this (title) means. It means a lot.”