High school girls soccer: RSL Academy wins 3A title in penalty kicks

The Real Salt Lake Academy Griffins won the 3A girls state soccer title in dramatic fashion on Saturday, beating the defending champion Ogden Tigers in penalty kicks to take home the championship trophy.

“Today was basically our last day in 3A, so we wanted to go out as champions,” said Griffins coach Sly Yeates.

“We’ve been prepping all season, and everyone worked hard. Adversity is what we’ve faced all season. Tonight, we had a couple girls go down with some hypothermia issues, but we came through and it’s a good feeling.”

Saturday’s game featured 40 degree weather, fast winds, and heavy rain and snow, and it quickly became a game of persistence.

Both teams started tonight hungry and went back and forth with shots, and both defenses had to work to not surrender a goal.

In the 37th minute, RSL snuck in a goal as Aerith Gomez assisted teammate Summer Long to give the Griffins a 1-0 lead.

As teams came out of the locker room for the second half, tensions rose, and two yellow cards were assessed to Ogden as it tried to even things up.

Despite the penalties, Ogden finally struck gold in the 59th minute as Kate Wadsworth scored off a free kick, and the game remained tied at 1 at the end of regulation.

Both overtimes featured multiple narrow misses for each team as both were giving it their all to win, but it remained a stalemate and the competitors lined up on the field for penalty kicks.

It remained tied through the first three rounds as both teams scored two goals, but in round four, RSL goalkeeper Isabelle Smith had a huge save to give her team the advantage.

Alaina Jensen stepped up next for the Griffins and nailed the back of the net, giving them a 3-2 lead.

On the ensuing Ogden kick, once again it was up to Smith. Save it, and the Griffins would win. Smith followed her instincts, jumped left and sealed the championship for Real Salt Lake Academy.

“This season was definitely a tough one,” Smith said. “There was a point where I almost quit. I’m really glad I didn’t because this is the best feeling, lifting that trophy and helping my team win.

“I kept thinking, ‘She’s going left, she’s going left,’ and I went for it and thankfully I got my hand on it. I saw my team running towards me and I thought, ‘Did we just win?’ This feeling is unreal. I’m going to miss all our seniors and coaches. This was a great season.”

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