What a difference three days can make.
The Tooele girls soccer team earned a hard-fought non-region win over Class 5A Hillcrest on Friday afternoon at Tooele High School, prevailing 3-1 in a penalty-kick shootout after the teams played to a 1-1 deadlock through 80 minutes of regulation and another 20 minutes of golden-goal overtime. The result stood in stark contrast to the Buffaloes’ previous outing three days earlier, a 5-0 loss to Juab that saw just about everything go wrong — including getting stuck in traffic on the way to Nephi and finally reaching the field five minutes before kickoff.
“I’m not going to take the credit away from Juab. They deserved to win, 100 percent,” Tooele coach Stephen Duggan said. “We didn’t play as well as we could, and that was frustrating. We didn’t feel like we’d done ourselves justice. We knew that it was in us, and it was just a matter of bringing it out (Friday), and we did. I’ve got to give the girls all the credit for it.”
Tooele (1-1) survived a sluggish start to Friday’s match, as Hillcrest sent a shot high over the crossbar from point-blank range in the second minute. However, the Buffs quickly found their stride, and freshman Abby Laughlin played a perfect ball into space to spring senior co-captain Liz Lundwall on a partial breakaway that Lundwall converted for a 1-0 lead just over four minutes into the match.
Ten minutes later, Hillcrest (0-1) drew even on a free kick that eluded Tooele junior goalkeeper Britain Stone. Stone had a couple nervous moments later in the first half as the Buffs’ young back line committed a few turnovers deep in its own end, but the Huskies were unable to find the back of the net.
“When we got on our heels and we invited them on, (Hillcrest) had some decent ballplayers — they’re not a bad side,” Duggan said. “When we pressed, when we won the ball early and when we played fast, we were a far better team.”
Both teams had opportunities to take the lead in the second half. Hillcrest rang a shot off the crossbar in the 63rd minute on a crossing attempt, and the Huskies had a free kick sail over the bar in the 68th minute. In the 71st minute, Tooele junior Libby Lyman had a shot from the top of the 18-yard box that just missed the right goalpost.
With the teams still deadlocked at 1-1, the match went into overtime. Tooele had the best scoring opportunity during the second 10-minute golden-goal period, with Alyssa Murray’s attempt from 20 yards out turned aside by the Hillcrest goalkeeper.
That sent the match into a penalty-kick shootout, a new rule in non-region play meant to eliminate tie games. Tooele junior Cecily Wolfe put the Buffs in front with a perfectly placed shot to the top right corner of the net, and Hillcrest’s first attempt bounced off the crossbar. After senior Cami Eldredge’s attempt missed the left post, Stone made an apparent diving stop on the Huskies’ second shooter, but it was ruled that the Tooele keeper came off the goal line too soon. That gave Hillcrest a second opportunity, and the Huskies converted to even the shootout at 1-1.
Tooele wasn’t rattled, however. Junior Sydney Gustin calmly buried her attempt into the right side of the net to put the Buffs up 2-1, and the next Hillcrest shooter put the ball off the crossbar. Lyman’s attempt missed wide left to briefly keep the Huskies alive, but Hillcrest’s fourth shooter missed high to give Lundwall a chance to end the match.
Just like she had done in the fifth minute — more than an hour and a half earlier — Lundwall didn’t miss. She shot the ball straight over the goalkeeper’s outstretched arms and into the back of the net, setting off a celebration among her teammates.
“I said when we were taking the penalties, ‘just go out and enjoy it,’” Duggan said. “There’s no pressure on them — of course, you can say that and it’s easier said than done. It’s really nice, especially the first home game, and if you’re going to do it, why not do it on penalties? For 100 minutes in this heat and so early in the season, they gave it everything they had.”
Tooele will play host to Summit Academy in a non-region match Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. before opening the Region 10 season Aug. 19 at Cedar Valley.