ST. GEORGE – A heroic effort by Ridgeline goalkeeper Makaylee Tenhoeve sent shockwaves through the 3A girls soccer playoffs as the Riverhawks defeated Desert Hills in a penalty kick shootout Wednesday evening.
“The best team doesn’t always win,” said Thunder coach Benji Nelson. “We dominated, had plenty of shots, but their keeper came up big very single time. It was just inches, some of them, but that’s what’s tough about soccer – there’s no guarantee the best team’s going to win.”
D-Hills, the co-region 9 champion and No. 1 seed from southern Utah, kept possession and control of the ball for most of the game and outshot the Riverhawks 15-2. In fact, at one point in the second half, the Thunder had the ball on the offensive half of the field for more than 21 minutes straight.
But every shot Desert Hills took, whether it was a line-drive screamer from Jess Mathis or a looping bender from Kodee Bracken, was turned back by the Ridgeline sophomore goalie, who recorded her sixth shutout of the season.
“I just tried to stay calm and keep the emotion out of it,” Tenhoeve said. “I’m going to work my butt off for my (offensive) teammates just like they work their butts off for me.”
Tenhoeve, who plays for the Salt Lake club team Avalanche during the off-season, said she has been in the situation many times.
“I’ve been through a lot of games,” she said. “Mentally strong is the big thing.”
With neither team able to break through in regulation or the two 10-minute overtimes, it came down to penalty kicks and with Tenhoeve playing lights out, the advantage quickly switched to the visitors from Cache Valley.
RHS’s Kattelyn Everton started it off and got a hard roller past DH goalkeeper Brittney Moore to make it 1-0.
Tenhoeve then blocked Brecken Dalley’s shot and, after a miss by Ridgeline, turned away a hard roller by Drew Morby.
A third block on a high kick by Morgan Myers, followed by a goal by Ridgeline’s Abbie Kotter, made it 2-0. Mathis scored to make it 2-1 with one PK left for each team.
That’s when Ridgeline coach Dan Christensen put Tenhoeve out front to try her own PK against Thunder keeper Moore. Her strike was strong and hard and exploded for the game-winner on the lower right edge of the net.
“Mac (Tenhoeve) was unbelievable today,” Christensen said. “She’s actually been playing amazing the last five or six games, so we’re not surprised, but she was just spectacular. Our whole defense played well.”
The Riverhawks advance to the state 3A quarterfinals and will play at Tooele at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Desert Hills, which went 7-3-0 in Region 9, will end its season with a 10-5-2 overall record.
3A Quarterfinals (Saturday)
Ridgeline (6-8-2) at Tooele (11-4-2), 1 p.m.
Stansbury (12-4-1) at Logan (12-2-1), 1 p.m.
Snow Canyon (11-6-1) at Canyon View (9-7-0), 1 p.m.
Juan Diego (10-5-1) at Park City (11-6-0), 1 p.m.
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