Pleasant Grove head girls soccer coach Matt Embley couldn’t be more proud of the resiliency and dedication his Vikings have shown during the challenging 2020 season.
“It was one of the best experiences I ever had,” Embley said. “It was totally reward, through the ups and downs, to see these girls fight so hard for something that they love. It hurts when you love something so much. If it doesn’t hurt, we’ve done something wrong. We came out and stayed strong. I think that the love these ladies have for this game showed tonight. It has been a true joy for me and I hope for them as well.”
Pleasant Grove emerged from all of the trials and obstacles to put together another impressive campaign but ended up one game short of their biggest goal.
The Vikings fell behind early to 6A powerhouse Davis in Tuesday night’s 6A state semifinal game at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy and couldn’t find a way to answer.
The No. 2-seeded Darts rode the momentum to a 4-1 win and earned a rematch against No. 1-seed American Fork in the 6A championship on Friday.
“They got those two goals in two minutes less than 10 minutes into the game and it was an uphill battle from there,” Embley said. “We just couldn’t quite put it together. It was great to see everyone coming out in support. They stayed to the end and cheered us on. The love of the community was definitely there for us.”
Davis seized control of the semifinal in the first 10 minutes, scoring a goal off a nice cross in the seventh minutes, then tacking on a second goal in the eighth minute when a corner kick bounced around in the penalty box before the Darts were able to knock it in.
Pleasant Grove, the No. 6 seed, didn’t fold but fought desperately to get back in the game, creating a few opportunities that could’ve swung the momentum back in favor of the underdogs.
It was Davis, however, who notched another goal right before halftime to put the Vikings in a deep hole they couldn’t get out of.
Embley loved how is team gave everything it had, regardless of the odds against them.
“They didn’t quit,” Embley said. “It made me proud to be their coach. Nobody on this team wanted to quit. Nobody wanted to leave the field. No one wanted to allow this wonderful season to end.”
He said this was a Pleasant Grove team with nine seniors who set the standard for the program for years to come.
“I’m super-proud of them,” Embley said. “They built PG soccer. Before a couple of years ago, we hadn’t even sniffed the playoffs. For these seniors to have made it to the quarterfinals as sophomores and then reach the semifinals twice, to build a program that wasn’t much, to see where we are at today, that is a tribute to them and the effort they put into this program in the last four years. It truly something they have built.”
He said now the underclassmen have different expectations moving forward than they did a few years ago.
“Something that has changed is the confidence of knowing we belong in the conversation, belong on the field with these top-tier teams,” Embley said. “Give credit to Davis. The Darts are a great team. But it’s a tribute to our girls that they have set that standard for the future of Pleasant Grove soccer.”
Davis and American Fork will play for the 6A title at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy Friday at 8 p.m.