As Lone Peak head girls soccer coach Shantel Jolley watched the final minutes of Friday’s 2018 6A state championship game slowly tick off the clock, there was plenty of reason for her nerves to be on edge.
The Knights clung to a 1-0 lead over Layton — but Jolley had been in that exact same position before with heart-wrenching results.
“From my experiences playing and everything that’s happened, it’s almost hard for me to imagine the game actually going right,” Jolley said. “There might have been a little post-traumatic stress disorder from my finals.”
In 2005, Jolley was just a talented sophomore (Shantel Flanary) playing for a very good Lone Peak team — a squad that only lost one game as it made a big run to the 5A state championship.
The Knights battled a very good Brighton team in the finals but built a 2-1 lead heading into the final minute.
Then disaster struck for Lone Peak as the Bengals earned a free kick and attacked, apparently using an uncalled hand ball to knock the ball into the net and tying the game. In overtime, Brighton was able to score the game-winning goal.
The Knight teams in Jolley’s junior and senior seasons also made it to the 5A title game, only to lose to Alta both times.
That was then, however, and this was now.
“I knew these girls were different and the situation was different from when I was playing,” Jolley said. “I had faith and confidence in them, despite my past experiences in the finals.”
She had told her girls before the title game how hard it was to come in second three times.
“She said taking home the second-place trophy isn’t the same as taking home the first-place trophy,” Lone Peak senior midfielder Ellie Durfey said. “She said she feels like she’s a proud mom, that we are all her little daughters. She means the world to us. She is an amazing coach and without her we wouldn’t be the team we were, not even close.”
That meant seeing her Lone Peak team hold on to defeat the Lancers and win the first state girls soccer title in school history even more special.
“I didn’t know what to do when the whistle blew,” Jolley said. “I’ve never left this game happy. How do I celebrate? I was just so proud of them for what they did, and it’s special to be part of. I think I appreciate it more now than I did as a player because I finally understand everything that goes into it. So many things have to go right and you don’t realize that as a player like you do as a coach.”
There is also the additional element of Jolley being pregnant with her son, who will be named Christopher Champ. The middle name is after NFL star Champ Bailey but is particularly applicable after the Knight victory.
“Her baby has kind of been like our mascot, I guess,” Lone Peak junior defender Addison Symonds said. “We’ve had fun with that.”
Jolley wasn’t the only coach who got to enjoy something special in the state finals.
Orem head coach Scott Wells had a special reason to want the Tigers to make it to the final week of the 4A state playoffs.
“It was my dream,” Wells said. “My son Zach was in Mexico and would he get a chance to watch his sister play a couple of more times? He got two more chances.”
Zach Wells came back from his mission with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Mexico City in time to see his younger sister, senior midfielder Sydnee Wells, on the field for her final two games.
“It’s was neat to see my little sister play for the last time,” Zach Wells said. “It was fun to see her play as a senior. It was a great experience.”
Scott Wells even had Zach help out as one of the ball-chasers outside the field boundaries for Saturday’s 4A title game.
Even thought Tigers ended up losing to Snow Canyon, 1-0 in overtime, Scott Wells still got to savor that family moment in his final game coaching the Orem girls soccer team.
“It was fun to have him,” Scott Wells said. “His class with the boys soccer team did the same things. Three years ago, we lost by one in the finals. It’s been great. I’m retiring from the girls this season and just (doing) the boys. Doing both seasons and having full-time employment is a lot — plus you get so physically and emotionally invested. It’s a drain but it’s a lot of fun.”