Calista Wren added a new feather in her Lehi soccer cap on Tuesday: buzzer beater.
With just two seconds left on the clock in the first overtime in the 5A semifinal, Lehi’s senior midfielder ripped a shot from outside the box, which slipped through the hands of Bonneville’s keeper and into the back of the net as time expired and Lehi’s players stormed Juan Diego’s field, capping a wild 2-1 victory.
“I get the ball around five, and then I take that touch and I hear three, two, and I’m like, ‘I’ve just got to shoot it cause that’s the only way we can win,’ and I just shot it. And it went in. I’ve never seen a buzzer beater in soccer before,” said Wren, recounting hearing the stadium announcer counting down the final few seconds of the clock.
The goal was Wren’s second long-range tally of the game as she helped punch No. 6 Lehi’s ticket into Friday’s 5A state championship at Rio Tinto Stadium at 2 p.m. where it will take on No. 1 seed Skyline.
In the first 5A semifinal at Juan Diego on Tuesday, Skyline kept its perfect season alive improving to 19-0 with a 3-2 victory over Timpanogos.
The game was level 2-2 at halftime, with Lily Boyden notching the game-winner midway through the second half to lead Skyline back into the 5A title game. It won the 5A state title back in 2019.
Lehi’s only state title came in 1996.
The unlikely Pioneers are now one win away from ending that 25-year drought.
“There’s something special about this group that never quits, and Calista was just in the right spot and she rips it,” said Lehi coach Tim Graham.
Lehi’s semifinal win was thanks in larger part to some halftime adjustments, which took some swallowing of pride for Graham’s team.
“We are a possession team and they took us out of our game in the fast half completely, credit to Bonneville,” said Graham. “At halftime we knew we had to make adjustments and basically play ugly soccer cause we knew we had the speed up top.”
Trying to build the attack through the midfield against Bonneville rarely worked in the first half, so Lehi spent much of the second half bypassing the midfield by knocking the ball long for speedy forwards Stephanie Roper and Amy Ballard to track down.
The tactics helped tilt the field back to neutral in the second half, which Wren said felt odd.
“It was really hard, especially in the midfield cause that’s what we do, we play through the midfield. It was definitely a different game and I don’t necessarily love it, but it worked today to get the ball up there early,” said Wren.
It was Wren’s 32-yard blast in the 62nd minute that finally broke the deadlock on a shot that sailed over Bonneville’s keeper and into the back of the net.
It was a very short-lived lead though as Bonneville’s Rylee Lopaz equalized in the 63rd minute on a shot that curled away from Lehi’s keeper and into the side netting, leveling the score 1-1.
The Lakers didn’t threaten too often against Lehi’s backline, which Graham attributes to his defenders always being aware of the whereabouts of Bonneville’s dangerous attacking players Sadie Beardall and Summer Diamond.
Lehi will need to be ever more focused if it hopes to hand Skyline its first loss of the season in Friday’s final.
Skyline’s path to the final was much more difficult in the semifinals than the previous two rounds, where it blanked rival Olympus and Maple Mountain by a combined 7-0.
A third straight playoff shutout went out the window fairly early with a 22nd minute Timpanogos penalty kick, which started a chaotic final 20 minutes of the first half with both teams scoring twice.
Timpanogos struck first on a penalty kick from Sierra Pennock following a Skyline handball in the box.
Skyline’s Rozlin Gomez equalized two minutes later as she banged home her own rebounded shot, then 11 minutes later the Eagles took a 2-1 lead as Lily Hall tapped in a cross from Lily Boyden.
For a Skyline team that had only allowed 11 goals all year, up 2-1 late in the first half was certainly the type of lead it believed it could protect until the final whistle.
Instead, the lead lasted a mere two minutes.
Timpanogos’ Haley Hutchings buried a corner kick from Pennock in the 35th minute to level the score 2-2.
“I think both of the teams were nervous, once we settled, I think both teams find the rhythm, this is when you saw the goals come for both teams,” said Skyline coach Yamil Castillo.
In the second half, Castillo thought it was his team’s poise that proved to be the difference.
“Only thing we told the girls is just play calm. In the second half we just pretty much played it only the on ground, we’re much better on the ground than in the air, and this is what we told them to focus on,” said Castillo.
While Skyline locked things down defensively with its possession, it took a moment of brilliance from Skyline’s top striker to finally break down Timpanogos in the second half.
Boyden uncorked a long-range shot in the 60th minute to put Skyline ahead for good as it improved to 19-0 on the season.
“This team has a mission. Undefeated, it’s hard, it’s pretty hard. But I knew the girls were going to pull it out,” said Castillo.