Cedar Valley head girls soccer coach Mitchell Hart joked after Wednesday’s 4A second round game against Sky View in Eagle Mountain that he was going to invest in round posts on his goals.
Would it have made any difference for the Aviators to have a different style of pipes?
Well, it might have.
Cedar Valley had two shots in overtime and two shots in the penalty-kick shootout hit off the woodwork and bounce out, all of which might have been game-changing for the home team.
In the end, however, it was the visiting Bobcats that made just enough penalty kicks to get the 1-1 (4-3) win and end the season for the Aviators.
“We played a good team and took them all the way to the end,” Hart said. “We had our chances. The girls played hard.”
There were definitely some rocky moments for Cedar Valley, which had a lot of players who just came back from being quarantined as part of efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“You could tell that we had a COVID-19 situation and weren’t cohesive early in the first half with the girls just coming back,” Hart said. “But we came back and started building as the game went along.”
Sky View attacked early and made a great play on a corner kick in the ninth minute to take the lead. The ball was crossed in beautifully and junior Macy Hellstern headed it just inside the far post for a 1-0 lead for the Bobcats.
Cedar Valley came back in the 33rd minute, however, when Aviator junior Presley Devey was able to break free and slot the ball past the lunging Sky View keeper to tie the game.
Neither team was able to get on the board again in the final 67 minutes of regulation nor during the two overtime periods.
The Bobcats had a couple of chances, including having one-on-one opportunity go wide and another shot roll up and over the crossbar.
Meanwhile Cedar Valley was trying to find a spark to help them play at a higher level.
“We’ve been looking for a leader,” Hart said. “We have good players, but we needed someone to step up in that moment and take charge. We were telling them that their season could be done but no one on the field was able to get us going.”
Even with some of the stagnant play, the Aviators created some golden opportunities in the two sudden-death overtime periods.
Devey had two more great one-on-one chances, both of which were saved. She also had a free kick that curved and hit the far post, before ricocheting out.
Since neither team was able to score, the game went to penalty kicks. Sky View did have a player miss but two Cedar Valley shooters hit the crossbar and had the ball bounce out.
“I hate penalty kicks,” Hart said. “I was a goalkeeper in college, so I know what it is like out there. At that point you really just have to smile, because it’s just down to five takers. We practiced it yesterday and these were the five who stepped up. Three were sophomores, so we still have room to grow.”
With the win, the Bobcats advanced to face No. 1-seed Ogden in the 4A quarterfinals on Saturday.
The Aviators will look back on a season of adversity hoping that they learned some important lessons.
“I feel like we got stronger as a team,” Hart said. “Collectively, this is our second year and most of the team is returning. Even though we didn’t go quite as far at state, I feel like we are steps ahead of where we were. We’re going to focus on our strengths, get better on defense and build for next season.”