5A boys' soccer: Lehi squeezes past Brighton on PKs
Woods Cross • Caide Ramos couldn't look up.
He stared down at the turf at Woods Cross High School and saw nothing but a soccer ball staring back at him. It was his moment. The Lehi senior midfielder was a shot away from sending his Pioneers to the Class 5A state title game against Bingham.
He didn't look up until after his penalty kick ensured his team a spot for the title. Ramos' goal turned the field into a bouncing blob of purple as the Pioneer student body invaded and began chanting.
"That one was hard on me," Ramos said.
Didn't look like it.
Lehi moved past powerhouse Brighton 4-3 on penalty kicks in Tuesday afternoon's second Class 5A semifinal match, overcoming two regulation deficits to punch its ticket to Rio Tinto Stadium.
"They're good enough not to lose," Lehi coach Jerry Preisendorf said.
And good enough to beat the Bengals in the most pressure-filled of situations.
Senior goalkeeper Taylor Watkins said he was excited for penalty kicks when the final whistle sounded. He wanted the moment, and he delivered when he stopped Brighton star Matt Coffey, the Bengals' second shooter.
"Stress is part of it, for sure," Watkins said. "This means more than anything. Soccer has been my life since I was a little kid."
Watkins said this season's team is different. In the past, he said his team expected to win.
"We got a little too cocky," he said.
Five tight regular-season losses shaped this team to work hard and, when the deficit was against them, to change the scoreboard.
"We've had no doubt that we could win it," Ramos said. "Since the very beginning, since team tryouts, we knew that this was going to happen."
It was Ramos who evened the match 2-2 in the 73rd minute on a penalty kick call. He followed teammate Gui Lemi's 30-yard rocket in the first half as answers to Coffey and Porter Criddle, who both gave the Bengals a lead in regulation.
"He had the confidence to get up there and knock it in both times," Preisendorf said about Ramos. "Have to give him credit there. That's life."
The Pioneers are set to face Region 3 rival Bingham in Thursday's 5A title game, a team they've beaten twice.
"When you've got to beat a team three times," Preisendorf said, "it's not easy."