There’s quite a history between Skyridge and Pleasant Grove on the soccer pitch.
Last year it was Skyridge who knocked Pleasant Grove out of the playoffs with a 1-0 final. In the regular season this year, both teams defended their home turf and walked away with 1-0 victories.
Tuesday’s rubber match in the second round of the state playoffs certainly didn’t disappoint.
Much like last year’s playoff matchup, Skyridge found the back of the net in the second half and held on for the 1-0 win to advance to the state quarterfinals.
“Pleasant Grove knows how to make a good game,” said Skyridge coach Toby Peterson. “They are a solid team, they are well coached, they gave their hearts today. They made it tough for us.”
The early going was tough for both teams as each tried to find a rhythm. State tourney nerves and a strong wind certainly played a factor before the two Region 4 foes were able to start to click offensively, and through the first 20 minutes of play, neither team had a threatening shot to open the scoring.
Skyridge’s offense took its first corner kick of the night in the 31st minute and just missed tallying the first goal of the game. Pleasant Grove answered with its best look of the first half in the 34th minute, but the ball bounced just wide, and the teams went to the halftime break knotted up at zero.
“I thought we defended really well,” said Peterson. “We knew that there was an opportunity with the wind at our back in the second half to get there. That was our message at the half, just attack.”
The message was received and executed as the intensity and energy picked up in the second half.
As the win-or-go-home mentality started to kick in, both teams traded opportunities throughout the half, with each seemingly looking more and more like it would be the first goal of the match.
In the 75th minute, magic struck for the Falcons. Allison Beard came off the bench and ignited the Skyridge offense, finding senior Kylie Olsen down the sideline in Pleasant Grove territory.
Olsen dribbled to the middle of the field and fired a laser that zipped just past the keeper’s reach and into the back of the net.
“As soon as it left my foot it felt good. I knew it had the power it needed and as soon as it went in that net, I was so happy,” Olsen said.
While the Skyridge sideline exploded with excitement, nightmare déjà vu crept into the Vikings’ heads.
Just like the playoffs the year before, the Falcons were inching closer to ending Pleasant Grove’s season.
“We knew that we knocked them out of the playoffs last year and so they were going to come in motivated and determined,” Peterson said.
“They saw that the team that knocked them out went to the finals and so they were looking forward to paying some retribution. We just did the opposite.”
The 11th-seeded Falcons will now have a quick turnaround as they battle the upset-minded Fremont Silverwolves on Thursday for the chance to return to a semifinal appearance at Juan Diego High School.
“We cannot get cocky. We need to go back to practice and play like we lost,” said Olsen. “We need to play the next team like they are the best team in the world and we definitely need to have fun. That’s when we play our best.”
Her head coach couldn’t agree more.
“We’ve been working so hard for this, for the opportunity to advance and hopefully get back to the state championship and finish the business that we tried to finish last year,” Peterson said.
“We are going to do our best to make it back this year.”