LAYTON — For Journee McDowell, a senior at Layton High School and a member of the Lancers’ girls soccer team, her beloved sport had nearly been ruined by a common kitchen essential — Saran wrap.
Not literally, no.
The field south of Layton High School hadn’t become a dumping ground for plastic wrap, nor had cling wrap been utilized in place of McDowell’s regular cleats or uniform.
Mentally, however, Saran wrap had wound itself tightly around the goal posts of Region 1, stretched across every frame’s opening and prevented McDowell from scoring goals.
Through 17 games this season she had mustered just two goals, one against Fremont on Aug. 30 and another a month later against the Syracuse Titans.
For a forward/midfielder, there isn’t much worse.
“Ever since I stopped scoring it felt like there was Saran wrap around the goal, making sure the ball wouldn’t go in,” McDowell said.
She had a goal, or an objective, heading into Tuesday afternoon’s 6A quarterfinal bout between Layton and the Westlake Thunder.
She wanted to rip the Saran wrap apart.
“My goal was to break it,” McDowell said.
With four minutes remaining in the first and only overtime period played between the Lancers and the Thunder — the scored knotted at one goal apiece — McDowell got her breakthrough.
She drilled a free kick past Westlake goalkeeper Hadley Whiting and into the back of the net, lifting the Lancers to a dramatic 2-1 overtime victory.
“That felt so good,” an ecstatic McDowell said afterward. “It has been a while since I’ve scored. That was just amazing.”
For much of the afternoon, the Lancers were not.
Despite controlling the game early, courtesy of strong play in the midfield from players like Kinlee McMillian and Kaitlyn Richins, the Lancers quickly fell behind the Thunder 1-0.
Westlake’s Te Anu ‘Tia’ Hansen was the responsible party — she put the Thunder in front midway through the first half when she finished off a corner kick taken by Karlee Willey.
The Thunder would hold onto that lead for over an hour, despite the Lancers’ best efforts.
“They started winning 50-50 balls and got us playing defense,” Layton head coach Tara Ferrin said. “We changed that in the second half. At halftime we made a commitment that we were going to win the 50-50 balls. That is really what gave us the momentum.”
Layton did possess both momentum and the ball for much of the second half, but it was largely to no avail.
The Lancers attempted upwards of seven shots on goal, were awarded nine set pieces, including seven corner kicks, and yet could not find the back of the net.
Credit for that went to Whiting.
“She had a great game,” McDowell said of the Westlake keeper. “She was a very good goalie. I am not going to lie.”
Whiting stymied Layton attack after attack, preventing Atley Thompson, Brynlee Roberts, Alexandra Checketts, and Richins, among others, from scoring.
It seemed as though Whiting was unbeatable.
With just four minutes remaining in regulation, however, the Lancers’ got the game-tying goal. The score fittingly came on a corner kick, taken by Richins, which Susan Sweeten volleyed in.
“They never gave up,” said Ferrin. “We scored with what, four minutes left? We pulled a defender up and the girls just never gave up. That is what kept us in it.”
Then, after battling through the final minutes of regulation and first six minutes of overtime, Layton was awarded a free kick mere feet outside of the box.Comment on this story
McDowell, mental Saran Wrap and all, stepped up to attempt the kick and with that, the Lancers were victorious.
“I maybe had a little bit of nerves, but honestly that was just like a PK,” McDowell said of her game-winning goal. “I take those all the time."
“We were kind of expecting it would be a really good game,” she continued. “We wanted to come out as a team and do our best, work together. We wouldn’t have won if it weren’t for everybody.”
With the victory, Layton advances to the semifinals of the state tournament, where they will battle a familiar foe — the Davis Darts.