Tuesday afternoon was a tough time to be a goalkeeper at Alta High School.

The Hawks’ grass soccer field is normally a beautiful scene on sunny, warm days, but the weather was cloudy, wet and about 45 degrees when Maple Mountain faced Alta in the second round of the 5A girls state tournament. However, the Golden Eagles survived the muddy conditions and edged the Hawks 2-1 in a shootout.

With the win, coach Craig LaMont’s team improved to 15-4 overall and advanced to the quarterfinals to play at top-seeded Skyline Thursday. Alta, a one-time girls soccer power whose last state crown was 10 years ago, ended with an 11-6 mark.

The Hawks had their chances, and pressured Paiton Collins throughout the game. Elyse Jessen’s goal early in the second half gave Alta a brief lead, but the Eagles’ Nixon Jackson responded with a score off teammate Mika Krommenhoek’s corner kick to forge a tie a few minutes later.

After that, Alta seemed to have most of the momentum but the Hawks couldn’t get a shot past Collins.

“We have a powerful offense, but our plan was to play defense, get the tie and leave it up to Paiton,” LaMont said. “She’s very good. We’re happy with her.”

Collins stopped seven Alta shots in the first 10-minute overtime, then handled another close attempt before the contest went into penalty kicks. After five shots each, each team netted three. Alta’s soccer field doesn’t have lights and, with sunset less than 30 minutes away, the match finally ended when the Eagles’ Sheridan Liggett found the net on her kick and Alta’s McKenna Kunz had her shot ricochet high off the top crossbar.

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“I was so excited, I didn’t know what to do … at first (after Kunz’s shot missed),” Collins said. “I was so full of adrenaline.”

It was a long, cold afternoon for both teams. Besides the cold, both teams had to avoid muddy holes in front of each goal. Combined with the slippery grass, it was a wonder either team’s goalkeeper could stop a shot in the shootout.

“There really wasn’t an advantage; we both had to deal with it,” Collins said. “I tried to avoid it. After a while, I stopped thinking about it.”

Now, the Eagles are thinking about facing another team with an impressive soccer history: Skyline, which defeated Olympus 4-0. LaMont said Maple Mountain was hoping to have a better seed at state but a surprising late-season loss to region rival Springville moved them from a fifth seed to No. 9 and eliminated a first-round bye. They prevented that from becoming a problem with a win over Mountain View and then the Hawks. 

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