Sandy • The Juan Diego and Cedar City girls' soccer teams were locked in a scoreless battle for 80 minutes. All it took was five minutes of overtime to decide it.
Emily Pascua took advantage of a misplay by the Cedar defense and scored the winner to send Juan Diego into the Class 3A state championship game with a 1-0 win over Cedar on Friday at Jordan High.
"That's a moment of work," Juan Diego coach Simon McFall said about the effort of Pascua, a sophomore. "That young lady has been improving every day. That's her effort fighting in there and getting a touch."
Juan Diego advanced to the finals to play Dixie on Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium. Dixie defeated Park City in a shootout in the other semifinal.
The ball was sent downfield toward Pascua while a Cedar defender attempted to shield her from the ball. However, the defender didn't realize her goalie hadn't come out far enough. Reacting quickly, Pascua saw her opening and poked the ball past the unsuspecting defender and goalie.
"My coach was telling me all day to look for the ball, and I was patient all day," Pascua said. "I knew I couldn't take a touch right away. When I shot the ball and saw it going in, it was so much of an adrenaline rush."
Teammates and others mobbed Pascua after her goal.
"I had a swarm of people come behind me," Pascua said. "I had like a three-minute hug with my team, which felt nice."
Both teams had equal opportunities throughout regulation. Cedar, in fact, attempted five corner kicks within the first 15 minutes of the game. A shot by Juan Diego was pinned to the crossbar early in the second half.
With a golden goal deciding the game in overtime, the urgency intensified for both teams.
"It was going to come down to a moment of focus, energy and effort," McFall said. "In those moments, it's a character thing. In overtime, the next opportunity ends it. It's a wonderful experience for both teams."
Juan Diego keeper Melanie Mecham extended her school record in shutouts with her third of the season. She now has 24.5 for her career.
The Soaring Eagle will compete in their fifth state championship game over the last eight seasons. Juan Diego last won the title in 2010 over Park City.
Juan Diego 1, Cedar 0 (OT)
O Emily Pascua scores in overtime, sending the Soaring Eagle to the state title game.
• Juan Diego keeper Melanie Mecham notches her third shutout of the season.