ROY — It isn’t unusual for a goalkeeper to be the best, or at the very least the most important player on a soccer field.
It also isn’t unusual for a goalie to make plays that decide the outcome of a game.
What is unusual is when a goalkeeper makes arguably the most important play of the game as part of his team’s offensive attack.
Tuesday afternoon at Sand Ridge Park — home of the Roy Royals — the unusual happened.
Thanks in part to goalie Hudson Bodily, Roy defeated the visiting Corner Canyon Chargers 2-1 in the first round of the 5A state tournament Tuesday, rallying from an early deficit.
“This is huge,” said Roy head coach Craig Charlesworth. “Coming from behind is huge. We have done that a few times this year, but doing it in a playoff game is big. Playing a team that is really good — every team is a good playoff team now — is going to give us confidence going forward.”
The thing is, Bodily made the victory possible, in the most unusual of ways.
He has a cannon for an arm, it turns out, honed over years and years of playing baseball.
Twenty, 30, 40 yards down the field, whatever the distance Bodily regularly delivers strikes to his teammates.
“It is fun for me,” he said. “I love it. It is just fun to watch the ball fly.”
His arm strength and accurate delivery actually creates offensive chances for the Royals and did so against the Chargers.
A Bodily delivery in the second half initiated the breakaway that led to the game-deciding score.
“He can throw like that all game, and his distribution is great,” Charlesworth said. “We always get breakaways off it. (His delivery) is a huge part of our team. It really works for us.”
Not much worked early on in the game for the Royals, however.
For much of the first half, the Chargers looked like the better team.
“They had a couple of guys in the middle who were kind of taking control of the game,” Charlesworth said.
If not for a few game-altering saves by Bodily, including a diving stab that prevented a Mills header from finding the back of the net, the Chargers would have taken a commanding first half lead.
They did manage one goal, on a shot by Osthed late in the first half, and at that point appeared primed to move onto the quarterfinals.
A few second half adjustments proved vital for the Royals though, and four minutes in Ben found the back of the net with the slightest of headers.
“We adjusted and marked them a little tighter,” said Charlesworth. “Our pressure towards them really helped. They started to give away more balls and in the first half they weren’t giving away a lot at all.”
The game remained knotted a one goal apiece for the next 16 minutes, that is until Bodily made his mark.
Midway through the second half, the goalie hurled the ball almost 50 yards downfield, where it fell perfectly at the foot of a teammate.Comment on this story
Two passes later, Watkins, a junior midfielder, gained possession of the ball, all alone on the left wing.
He finished off the run of play by beating Chargers goalkeeper Jagen Allen, breaking the 1-1 tie and ultimately giving the Royals the victory.
None of it would have happened without Bodily.
“It is just something I like to do,” he said, “and I do it when I play club too. It really helps and there is nothing to it. You just have to put your whole body into it. That is all you have to do.”
On Tuesday, it was all the Royals needed, a little of the unusual from their goalie.