Sandy • When the euphoric blob that was the Pleasant Grove Vikings dissipated, Chris Jenkinson sought out his head couch, bent his 6-foot-6 frame down low and squeezed Chris Ecalono. The Viking coach was sopping wet, the beneficiary of a bucket of water dumped over his head, but Jenkinson grabbed tight and apologized.
The Pleasant Grove goalkeeper told Ecalono that he didn’t mean to make his coach nervous, that his first-half mistake that put the Vikings under it early on in the Class 6A championship match Thursday night at Rio Tinto Stadium was something that wouldn’t define him or his team or this magical season.
He said it after the fact, because he had every ounce of confidence flowing through his veins, because when you stand tall in goal, when you make two penalty kick saves to deliver the first state title to your program, you get to apologize with a smile. That’s what Jenkinson was able to do at midfield Thursday after it took as many as 10 teammates to lift him up in the air and carry him a few yards toward the screaming student section.
“I muffed it up in the beginning and my team continually fought back,” Jenkinson said. “To be in that pressure [situation], it just felt really good to get the win and get what this team deserves, because this team deserves more than a championship, more than anything. This team is my blood.”
Pleasant Grove stunned previously undefeated Herriman 4-2 in penalty kicks in the 6A title match after a 1-1 result couldn’t be swayed in regulation or extra time. Jenkinson made his reads, and when junior midfielder Tyler Ashby buried the final penalty attempt for the Vikings, that was it.
It’s not an underdog story because Pleasant Grove was among the top teams in 6A in 2018. But the Vikings were up to the task, happy to thwart a perfect dream season for the best team in the state entering Thursday evening.
“We deserve this,” Ashby said.
Jenkinson’s mistake allowed Herriman’s Isaac Chance an opportunity that he capitalized on in the box. Chance’s shot deflected into the net in the 17th minute, but Ecalono and the Vikings told Jenkinson at halftime that they would pick him up.
“We told him we’d get it back for him,” Ecalono said, “and we did. He saved our butts in the end.”
Pleasant Grove cooly drilled a left-footed shot into the far side of the net in the 63rd minute against one of the top defenses in the state. A defensive mishap allowed Carson Ecalono to find Ashby, who took his time and pulled the Vikings even. Pleasant Grove was on the front foot from there on, testing Herriman goalkeeper JD Myers, who was up to the task in regulation and extra time. The Vikings hit the post with less than 10 seconds left in the second extra time frame.
When penalties were signaled, the Vikings were ready. They’d been practicing this scenario for the last month, Ecalono said. If one of the first five takers missed in practice, the team had to sprint.
In the last week, the Vikings missed four out of five. That’s because Jenkinson was in goal, making the sort of saves he did with a state title on the line.
“One time,” Ecalono said, “we had to run a mile.”
The Vikings were ready to sprint in exhaustion again inside Rio Tinto Stadium, but this time, there was a different feel to the burning lugs. Jenkinson made saves, Pleasant Grove drilled four out of its five penalty attempts and the result was everlasting.