With half the team not feeling well before Saturday’s match against Morgan in the second round of the 3A playoffs, Desert Hills soccer coach Benji Nelson knew he was going to need a lot of help from his bench if the Thunder were going to move on to the semifinals.
And boy did it come through.
Thanks to goals from junior Brenna Owen and sophomore Jess Mathis, the Desert Hills offense came alive in the second half to cruise to a 4-1 victory at Thunder Stadium.
“I was so pumped when I scored,” Owen said. “I’ve had a couple of chances the last couple of weeks but haven’t been able to finish. But to see it finally go in today was really special.”
Nelson said it was a complete team victory.
“Our bench has a lot of talent and we know that we can always count on them,” Nelson said. “Hadley (Cowan) is a great example as she came in and had two assists in 10 minutes. Everyone stepped up and I’m really proud of them.”
After lighting up Richfield for 11 goals in the first half on Wednesday, Desert Hills could only muster up a goal to take a 1-0 lead into halftime.
After winning a free kick, Madi Hansen, a senior, stepped up ripped a shot from more than 30 yards out. The ball towered towards the goal and with one bounce, jumped over Mollie Freestone’s outstretched hands to put the Thunder up in the seventh minute.
“I just hit the ball as hard as I could it luckily it worked out,” Hansen said.
Morgan — which wasn’t able to get anything going in the first half — came out on the attack to start the second half. The aggressive play created several chances for the Trojans, but still couldn’t get anything past Thunder keeper Brittney Moore.
Desert Hills midfielder Kenzie Done almost put the Thunder up two with beautiful blast from 35 yards out that Freestone saved by punching the ball over the goal. Done would later get revenge in the 70th minute when she ripped home a free kick from 35 yards out into the top corner of the net.
“I saw that the keeper wasn’t ready so I just went ahead and kicked it,” Done said.
After the kick went in, Done seemed as though she was frozen as she stood in the middle of the field in almost disbelief.
“I don’t know why I do that sometimes. But I was really excited, I can assure you,” Done said.
Done’s kick finished off a wild five minutes in which four goals were scored.
Owen kicked things off with header from Cowan in the 65th minute to go up 2-0.
Less than two minutes later, Mathis booted another one in in the 67th minute to go up 3-0.
But Morgan kept fighting and just a minute later, got one back to pull with two at 3-1.
With the win, Desert Hills will face Logan in the 3A semifinals next Friday at Jordan High School. The game will start at 3:45 p.m.
Follow Justin Giles on Twitter @Justingiles22.
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