Though No. 12 Skyline has not had much time to gel as a team this year, the Eagles came together Tuesday night to take down No. 5 Lehi 1-0 on the road in the second round of state tournament play. 

Not bad for a team that just had its first practice last week. 

A long, snowy winter put the Eagles in a jam, effectively eliminating practices in the regular season and forcing the school into a stretch of the season that saw them play three matches a week.  

The team had to make up for lost time. 

“Trying to get our kids to connect and click and bond was really, really tough,” longtime Skyline head coach Shawn Kennedy said.

“So it’s been a lot of switching around, trying players in different positions, seeing how they match up with one another — next to each other. It’s been really kind of a struggle for them for quite a while. But we kind of feel like the last week or so the kids are finally kind of getting together, gelling. We’ve got a defense that is now playing well together and our offense is attacking a little bit better. So we felt really good about today’s win.”

The Eagles’ defense shut out a Lehi offense that had been averaging more than two goals a game and had only been held scoreless twice on the year. That same offense had scored nine goals in its previous two contests.

Only one goal was scored on Tuesday, and it came off the head of Skyline senior midfielder Eric Neklason on a corner kick that bounced around the box before getting knocked in.

Neklason explained what happened on the biggest play of the match.

“I see one of our players back post, he heads it. Another player flicks it, and I am able to lose my man and kind of just tuck one in on them.”

Neklason’s goal gave the Eagles their second win of the tournament, the initial victory coming last Friday over East while Lehi had a first round bye. 

After getting kept off the field for so long this season, Kennedy felt playing in the first round and not drawing a bye benefitted his squad.

“Having that game really helped us,” the Skyline coach said. “It was good for us because it gave us one more game together to kind of solidify everybody’s role on the field. So I felt good about it. The kids felt good. They came away with a really good win and they were making some good offensive attacks … For us, I think it was ideal.”

On paper, the schools looked evenly matched. Both teams entered Tuesday’s contest with 10 wins this season and an 11th on their minds. 

However, on the field, Skyline was in control for most of the match, leaving Lehi noticeably frustrated as time wore on. 

The Eagles kept the Pioneers’ opportunities to a minimum, finishing the evening with five corner kicks to Lehi’s one. 

The loss spells an end to Lehi’s season, the Pioneers ending the year with a 10-6 overall record.

Skyline’s win gives the team its fifth triumph in its last six contests, getting the Eagles to a third straight state quarterfinal — a round that has seen the school come out victorious in each of the last two seasons. 

“At the end of the day … we’re looking forward to playing some more soccer,” Neklason said. 

Skyline will get that opportunity in Friday’s quarterfinal against No. 4 Hillcrest. The Huskies and the Eagles are scheduled to begin play in Midvale at 4 p.m.