Bountiful 0(5), Brighton 0(3)

Things looked bad for the Bountiful Redhawks when they were assessed an untimely second half red card and were forced to play one player down.

But, despite having to play 40 minutes of 10 on 11 soccer, Bountiful earned a return trip to the 5A state championships with a 5-3 shootout victory over the Brighton Bengals.

“I think when that unfortunate card was given, given the reason for the foul, it certainly should not have been a red card, but it’s not mine to say,” said Bountiful head coach Lou Plank.

“But, knowing the complexion of the game, how the game was ebbing and flowing at that point, I felt if the girls would just settle down and play their style, even a man down, they would still out-possess them and would still create more opportunities on goal.

“To their credit, that’s what they did. The girls settled down and continued to play their style. They didn’t get rattled with a man down. I think if anything else we went at them even harder and created even more opportunities on goal than we had with 11 players.”

While the Redhawks didn’t find that elusive goal, they had plenty of chances to take the lead and kept possession away from the Bengals to force a shootout.

Bountiful’s shootout loss in last year’s 5A championship game loomed large as the two teams lined up to decide the semifinal match.

“Well given our history from last year’s loss in the finals against Skyline in a shootout, It’s been one of our one of our focal points in training,” said Plank.

“At every training we made it a point of not leaving the park without practicing a shootout. Not only because games can no longer end in a draw, but also from that residual memory and funk that still kind of hung over us where we didn’t perform quite that well last year. We’ve had some clutch shootouts, namely this one and the last one against Springville, and the girls performed very, very well. I think we’ve eradicated the problem.”

Last year Bountiful only scored on two shots in the shootout against Skyline, but on Tuesday it scored on all five chances, including a shot from Oakley Jensen that sealed the game.

“I was so nervous,” said Jensen. “I thought, ‘If I miss this then it’s over.’ I just stayed calm and thought, ‘I practice this every single day.’

“It actually feels so good, during practices we practice PKs all the time because we decided this is not going to happen again, we can’t lose on PKs. We just work hard and get it done,” said Jensen.

The win pushes Bountiful to the 5A state championship game, where they’ll face Maple Mountain at America First Field Friday at 5 p.m. 

Maple Mountain 2, Olympus 1

The Maple Mountain Golden Eagles struggled to open the season, with the Golden Eagles losing five of their first seven games.

However, Maple Mountain turned its season around after a loss against Timpview on Aug. 29, winning 11 of its last 12 games, including a 2-1 semifinal victory over the Olympus Titans to earn a trip to the 5A championship for the first time since 2017.

“I think we just learned from our mistakes throughout the season,” said Maple Mountain senior Mika Krommenhoek. Krommenhoek leads the team in assists with 14 assists while also notching five goals, including a first half goal against Olympus. “We definitely had a slower start and we just studied film, we practiced hard together as a team, and it’s been paying off. We’ve been able to just fix those mistakes, clean up our game and just finish.”

The path to the 5A finals has been a tough one for Maple Mountain. It had to defeat No. 7 Timpview, which it lost to twice earlier this season, and No. 2 Clearfield, who won 10 of its last 11 games before the 5A quarterfinals.

But Maple Mountain head coach Cliff Swain says it’s all because of how supportive his team is.

“These girls, they play for each other,” said Swain. “They play as a team and it’s insane, we can have a girl go down and someone else steps up.

“We can have a girl have a great game and everyone congratulates you. It’s never about me, it’s always about the team with these guys and it all comes from them. It’s amazing how well they can get each other to go. I’ve been impressed with it all year.”

Maple Mountain offense was quick to strike in the first half and built a quick 2-0 lead with Krommenhoek’s goal and a goal from Hannah Bailey.

The Golden Eagles kept up their pressure in the second half, but Olympus finally broke through with 17 minutes left after a goal from McCoy Cavazos.

Olympus was throwing everything at Maple Mountain in hopes to even the score, but Swain says he knew his team could hold on.

“We’ve just been so solid in the back this year,” said Swain. “We knew that Olympus was good, I mean they have a lot of speed and one breakaway, and they get in. So, we just made sure we said, ‘Hey, don’t let them get through. If they get a goal from up top, oh well. But let’s not let them get through.’ We had hope, we had a plan, and it felt like we could pull it off.”

Maple Mountain escaped with the 2-1 victory and hopes to complete the title run in the 5A championship against Bountiful at America First Field on Friday.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Swain. “In the beginning of the year, we knew we were coming with a young team, and we said, ‘If we’re going to make a run, it’s got to be at the end of the year.’

“We didn’t realize how much these seniors were going to carry us and pick the younger generations up and get them to be playing at their level rather than them dropping down.

“The team has just raised to the level and they’ve said, ‘Yeah, we got this, we can do this.’ Even before today they said, ‘We got this, coach, don’t worry about it.’”