HERRIMAN — It took nearly an hour of game time, but the breakthrough goal finally came for Sky View’s boys soccer team, and the Bobcats advanced to the 4A championship game on the strength of a 1-0 victory over Mountain View on Friday night.
The Bobcats (11-2-4) needed most of the 59 minutes prior to Jake Johnson’s game-winner to find a way through the backline of the Bruins (12-4-0). That grind didn’t come unexpected to Sky View head coach Jorge Cruz, but neither was the fact that his side were able to pull through.
“We knew facing Mountain View was going to be a tough challenge. A lot of talent on that team,” Cruz said. “But we knew we had the heart to take on Mountain View and I’m glad we did it.”
The usual methods on offense of finding through balls to Jonathan Bergeson, among other forwards, wasn’t working the same as they had during the regular season when the Bobcats averaged just under two-and-a-half goals per game in region play.
“We were trying to play the easy ball,” Cruz said, “but the wind was carrying the ball a lot farther and the field was way fast. We weren’t ready for that. I think actually playing against the wind (in the second half) slowed down the game a little.”
Both sides were effectively even in the first half, with both teams getting one shot on goal and both getting two set piece chances in the form of corner kicks. In the second half, that changed with Sky View pouring in the pressure on Mountain View’s backline and goalkeeper. The Bobcats reeled off five shots overall, four making it on frame. Cruz credited his team’s stamina for the second-half dominance.
Jake Johnson’s breakthrough came in the 59th minute. A cross played in pinballed around the box until it rolled just outside of the box into the half-circle. Johnson found himself just in position enough to lunge at the ball, and with his left hip trimming the blades of turf, the senior sent the ball into the bottom right netting.
“I saw the ball coming to my feet and I took the shot,” Johnson said. “It went in and it was a good time to go in.”
Once the breakthrough came, Sky View gained even more confidence knowing its efforts had paid off, but with 20 minutes left on the clock, a lot of defending had to happen — most importantly on an almost literal last-second free kick for the Bruins.
Mountain View, champions of Region 10, summoned all of its energy in the final 30 second of the match to get off any chance toward SV keeper Mailik Horman. The Bruins got an excellent opportunity when the center ref called a foul 25 yards from goal on the Bobcats with three ticks left to go. The clock stopped just long enough to allow Jondre Davila to set up over the ball and let loose.
“To be honest, I’ve seen film on (Davila) and I’ve seen that he’s been putting a lot of balls inside the net from that distance, so I was nervous,” Cruz said. “I was trying to yell to have more people in the wall, but my voice wasn’t loud enough.”
Not having as big of a wall helped Davila put the ball on frame, just inside the left post. However, Horman was all over the shot, making a stand-up save as the clock hit zeros, and the Bobcats rushed the field with the excitement only a championship appearance can summon.
The Bobcats, who have only conceded one goal in their three postseason matches, extended their unbeaten streak to 12. Sky View now has six shutouts on the season.
Sky View will face defending 4A champion Desert Hills (18-2-1) in the championship game. The Thunder defeated Mountain Crest 5-1 on Friday and have outscored opponents in the playoffs 11-2 thus far.