PK Orem 6 Cyprus 5
KAYSVILLE â “Cinderella” is alive and well, and now she’s hopping in that fancy carriage and going to the state finals.
Orem High’s soccer team, which finished fourth in Region 7 during the regular season, continued its fairy-tale run through the state playoffs with a dramatic shootout victory over Cyprus in a tense 4A semifinal showdown Tuesday at Davis High.
“Oh, my goodness, give me a heart attack,” Orem head coach Scott Wells said with a huge (and very relieved) smile on his face after his team won the nail-biting shootout 6-5. “I put on five years there, and I’m already old enough.
“But wow, our defense has been key all season, and we had that couple of mistakes that first half (which ended in a 2-2 tie). It was wild. We had opportunities; I’m just glad the defense came through the second half.
“And we have practiced penalty kicks for a couple weeks now, just constantly, we really have,” he said. “(His players) knew exactly what they were doing and they did it â 6-for-6.”
With the win, the Tigers (11-6-3) advanced to Thursday’s championship matchup against Region 8 champ Maple Mountain, which beat Mountain View 3-0 in Tuesday’s second semifinal matchup.
Orem handed Maple Mountain its only loss of the season, 1-0, back on March 18, and the Golden Eagles haven’t lost since, winning 15 straight since then.
“It would be a challenge; it would be a battle,” Wells said of a possible championship rematch with Maple Mountain. “They are a good team. That’s why they only have one loss.”
In a goal-filled first half â Jose Hidalgo and Aron Alvarado scored for Cyprus (12-3-2), while Tyler Fowler and Sam Morato got the goals for Orem â the Tigers’ senior goalkeeper, Josh Parker, made the play of the day in the shootout to help send his team soaring into the title game.
Regulation play ended deadlocked at 2-2 after a scoreless second half, and the two teams battled through two scoreless 10-minute overtime periods. Each team then successfully converted its first five penalty kicks as tension steadily mounted in the shootout.
But Parker guessed right and stuffed the Pirates’ sixth PK attempt by Hidalgo, who had scored Cyprus’s first goal of the game little more than two minutes into the contest.
“I just guessed, yeah, but I realized after the first five that it only takes one,” Parker said of his decisive save. “I was trying not to get too worried and get upset if I missed one. â¦ It only takes one, and our team is clutch â to come in and make every single one for us makes a big difference.
“We’re gonna try and do our best. We’ve been with this team ever since I can remember, since we were little, and it’s finally peaking at the right moment for us. â¦ It just feels good to get the win.”
Indeed, after Parker’s huge stop, Orem’s Zachary Wells promptly drilled his subsequent PK into the back of the net, and the Tigers were on their way to the finals.
“It was a lot of fun,” Zachary Wells said. “It’s always fun to win a PK shootout, but we definitely wanted to win before that. We kept getting chances upon chances and we couldn’t put âem away.
“But once we got to the shootout, it was a clutch play by our âkeeper, Josh, and I don’t know if I could’ve made it (without his save). He took a lot of the pressure off me blocking that PK and made it a lot easier on me.
“That was all I could think about. I knew when I stepped up there that I was gonna put it away,” he said. “We’ve been practicing PKs for three weeks now in case this exact situation happened, so we all knew our spots and we all knew where we wanted to go (with their shots) from the beginning.”
Asked if it was fair to call his side “Cinderella,” coach Wells said, “I think so. These boys have worked. We started Jan. 4 at 5:25 in the morning, and they have been working ever since then to get to this, so they’re pretty excited.
“I think these boys think they can beat anyone, and I tend to agree with them â especially after today.
“The thing is our region, I think, really makes us battle-tested,” he said. “I mean, we’re playing Provo, Mountain View, Timpanogos, Alta, every week, and there’s no easy games, so I think that helps prepare us for games like this.”