Sandy • If having a strong wind blow into your face is a disadvantage, it must have seemed that Rowland Hall’s opponent and nature itself were colluding to beat the Winged Lions on Friday.
Even that didn’t matter.
A stiff wind from the south suddenly came from the north midway through the Class 2A girls’ soccer state semifinal at Jordan High. But Rowland Hall held fast and blew out Millard 8-0 to advance to Saturday’s state championship game.
The Winged Lions improved to 17-0 this season.
“We just came out and played our possessive style,” said senior Caeli Kennedy, who scored the first and last goals of game with one more in between.
“It was hard. The turf was a little different and the wind was really affecting us,” she said. “But on the ground, when we played our possessive style, we were good.”
Kennedy weaved her way through the Eagles’ defense in the third minute and scored the first goal. Giselle Bodeen scored again for Rowland Hall on a pass from Jordan Crockett just over two minutes later.
Crockett, a sophomore like Bodeen, got one herself on a breakaway in the 10th minute. Senior Savannah Price put back a rebound shot after her initial close-range shot was blocked six minutes later, and junior Kat Lanham put a ball in the upper-right corner of the net just before intermission for a 5-0 advantage.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Senior Caeli Kennedy scored three goals to help Rowland Hall coast to an 8-0 victory over Millard and into the state title game. Her third score, which came in the 51st minute, ended the game with the eight-goal mercy rule.
Kennedy got her second goal only a minute and change into the second half before the wind suddenly shifted.
“It was kind of funny. We normally don’t get too concerned about conditions, but I said ‘Hey, it seems like it’s coming pretty hard from here,’” Rowland Hall coach Bobby Kennedy said bout his pre-game decision to put the wind at his team’s back for the second half. “Five minutes into the second half, it’s going the other way.”
Millard (7-7-2) couldn’t take advantage as goals from Crockett and Kennedy closed out the game.
Rowland Hall advanced to the championship game last year only to fall to Waterford.
“There’s nine seniors on the team, so they have a little taste in their mouths when it comes to last year,” coach Kennedy said. “We don’t use that as motivation really, but they’re aware of it.”