The Rowland Hall boys’ soccer team might have felt collectively that it was good enough to compete at the upper end of Class 2A during the last two state tournaments. But the Winged Lions went out in the first round in both 2012 and 2013.
On Wednesday, Rowland Hall left little to chance as it blew out Grand County 5-1 in Salt Lake City.
The Lions got a goal from Junior Zoutomon in the 11th minute and another from fellow senior Michael Thompson six minutes later, and never looked back.
“My freshman year, we won in the first round. My sophomore and junior years, we lost — so it was definitely good to advance,” Rowland Hall senior Kyle Baranko said. “If we can get past ALA (American Leadership Academy), anything can happen. They’re the defending champs. If we can take them down, who knows what will happen?”
After the 2-0 lead, Baranko was a key player in the next two goals. With 11:30 left in the first half, his shot deflected back from the Grand keeper and the rebound shot from Thompson found net.
Five minutes later, Baranko had a corner kick that was helped by the wind right into the upper-right hand corner of the goal — without the ball being touched by anyone.
“I saw the keeper standing pretty far out in the penalty spot,” Baranko said. “I figured with the wind on my side, and a little bend, I could get it in. Never done that before.”
First-year coach Grand County coach Mick Dunlavey noted that, to him, the wind from the north seemed to die down after the teams switched sides for the second half.
“We definitely got pinned in [during the first half],” Dunlavey said. “The wind had a big impact, because we’re not that strong at getting the ball out of our own end.
“We were pretty excited to get in the playoffs and I’m proud of the way we finished things out today. It’ll give us some experience going into next year,” the Red Devils’ coach added.
Rowland Hall (9-5-1) scored an additional goal from senior Enzo Wiener in the second half, while Grand (5-6) got its goal with six minutes to play from junior Pyatt Austin.
Rowland Hall will play at ALA on Saturday at 11 a.m. in the 2A quarterfinals.
2A boys’ scores
Parowan 8, Intermountain Christian 0
Wasatch Academy 3, Layton Christian 1
Rowland Hall 5, Grand 1
American Leadership Academy 8, Beaver 0
St. Joseph 2, Manti 2 (2OT; St. Joseph wins shootout 4-1)
Delta 3, Wendover 1
Merit Academy 4, Millard 1
Waterford 5, Gunnison 0
2A boys’ schedule
All games Saturday, 1 p.m.
Wasatch Academy at Parowan
Rowland Hall at American Leadership Academy
St. Joseph at Delta
Merit Academy at Waterford
3A boys’ scores
All games Thursday, 4 p.m.
Uintah at Carbon
Grantsville at Pine View
Cedar City at Stansbury
North Sanpete at Park City
Bear River at Dixie
Morgan at Payson
Richfield at Juan Diego
Snow Canyon at Ben Lomond