Judge soccer player Jake Troy tried not to think about it too much but he knew how big of an opportunity it was.
Attempting to go after the ball, Salem Hills' goalkeeper Brandon Williams came out of the goal and fouled a Judge player on the way. The play resulted in a penalty kick that Troy would take.
Troy approached the ball with ease and calmly knocked it past Williams. That goal gave Judge instant momentum and the Bulldogs rolled to a 3-0 win over Salem Hills in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs.
When Troy took his penalty kick, Judge was only up by a goal. After he gave the Bulldogs a two-goal lead, he helped keep Judge's momentum going. About two minutes after his penalty kick, he got behind a Salem Hills defender and found himself open for a shot. But he opted for the pass to his wide-open teammate Ross Terrill, who finished the play.
"We know they're a new program so we didn't know what to expect," Troy said. "It got physical and it was not a good-looking game but we knew it was absolutely necessary to come out strong."
Salem Hills played tough defense in the first half. Although Nick Shifrar was able to score early on in the game, Judge coach Kelly Terrill said the Skyhawks' defense caused plenty of trouble.
"It was hard trying to move the defense out of the middle," Terrill said. "In the first half, we moved the ball well but we didn't have a purpose. But in the second half we made adjustment."
Just like in the first half, the Bulldogs were the more offensive team. But in the second half, Judge capitalized on those chances.
After a three-goal lead, Judge was able to breathe a little easier but Salem Hills wouldn't give up so easily. The Skyhawks' season was on the line and they played like it. They were physical. They fought to win 50/50 balls. They attacked the goal when they had a chance.
"We played a solid game," Salem Hills coach Lee Gillie said. "It was a good learning experience to be in this game."