Both the Maple Mountain and Wasatch boys soccer teams came up with key set-piece goals in a six minute span during Tuesday’s 5A semifinal battle at Herriman High School.
The Golden Eagle got the more spectacular finish — but the Wasps got the one that meant the most.
Maple Mountain senior Addison Allen scored a brilliant free kick goal from more than 40 yards out to tie the game with less than two minutes left in regulation and force overtime.
In the extra period, however, Wasatch pushed forward and was fouled in the box. Senior midfielder Edger Garcia slotted the resulting penalty kick into the right side of the net for the golden goal, giving the Wasps the dramatic 2-1 win.
Wasatch head coach Jared Hendry said the leaders on his squad made sure the team didn’t get down after surrendering the late goal.
“They came off at the end of the game and they were like, ‘hey, we got this,’” Hendry said. “We were just going to go play our game, attack them and put a goal in real quick and then we’re going to be able to walk out the field as winners. We as coaches just stood back and let the boys say that, then we devised a plan to get it up there. That allowed us to create a foul in the box that helped us to seal the game.”
The Wasps appeared to be in the driver’s seat in the 55th minute after senior Gabe Manning knocked the ball into the middle of the field and junior Carter Davis finished it, giving Wasatch the 1-0 lead.
But Maple Mountain kept battling, trying to find a crack in the solid Wasp defense. It took something special to accomplish that.
With time running out, Allen lined up and hit a stunning kick from more than 40 yards out, having the ball deflect off the crossbar and bounce down to the turf before ricocheting out.
After a consultation, the officials confirmed that the entire ball had crossed the line, giving the Golden Eagles the dramatic goal.
“Allen has made a few game-winners for us this year,” Maple Mountain head coach Larry Cullum said. “The thing about these boys is they don’t stop playing. They recognize as long as there are seconds on the clock, we’re going to keep on going. We gave up that goal and then they realized we had to ratchet up the energy. We had to be a little bit stronger and they did. Fortunately it paid off.”
Cullum felt optimistic about the chances for his Golden Eagles heading into overtime, since they had finally gotten some momentum.
“We thought we had a good understanding of we were going to work with each other and what we could do against these guys,” Cullum said. “I expected it to be a hard-fought game. We’re two really good teams and we know each other very well because we played each other in region. We split during the season, so we both kind of had an idea of what we wanted to do on the field. I think for the most part we did it.”
Cullum said it was disappointing to have the game end on the penalty kick but expressed how proud he was of what his Maple Mountain squad accomplished in 2021.
“Somebody has to lose,” Cullum said. “It’s a reality of life and you just hope that it’s not you — but you hope that if it is you that when you walk off the field, you know that you gave everything that you had on the field. They put it all out there today. They went out there and they worked. They didn’t leave anything left in the tank. You can be proud of that and you can walk away from a game knowing we gave our best effort. We did everything that we possibly could to move on to the next round.”
The Golden Eagle head coach felt some strong emotions as he talked about what his senior class did for the program.
“Every year you have a new group of leaders,” Cullum said. “This team was senior class lead and they mean the world to this program. We started off rough and we had a lot of real heart-to-heart talks about what we needed to do in order to turn it around. Those guys led us and did all the hard things. I can’t say enough about them. They’re all quality boys, good, hard-working kids, smart, intelligent, athletic, everything that you would want as a coach.”
Wasatch now prepares to face Skyline with the 5A state championship on the line.
“It’s phenomenal,” Hendry said. “We won our last one in 2013 and we’ve been talking to the boys about it. I’m really excited for them. I’m so excited for these boys to be able to play on that stage. It’s a dream to be out there and to take it in. I am so excited.”
The 5A title game is scheduled to take place at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy Friday at 4 p.m.