There were plenty of opportunities for Parowan to score the go-ahead goal in the second half of Saturday’s 2A quarterfinal match against Wasatch Academy.
But it took a stroke of luck in overtime to give the Rams a 2-1 victory and a ticket to the state semifinals.
Wesley Byl hit the golden goal with 4:11 left in the extra period to secure the win and send Parowan to the next round.
“I got a fantastic pass from Cody (Hartlmaier),” said Byl who had broken away from the pack and ended up ten yards from the box with the ball and nothing else between him and the end of the rainbow. “I was nervous for a second; I thought I was rushing it too fast. But I was there at the right time and put it in the back of the net.”
The shot sent players and fans rushing onto the field in celebration of the Rams’ trip to the semifinals just two years removed from one of the worst seasons on team record.
“We’ve said all season we’re a family,” head coach Larry Daniel said. “We’re a band of brothers, we play as one and we lift everybody up. We take each game as it comes and we do our best.”
Coming off an 8-0 destruction of Intermountain Christian in the first round, the Rams’ best had to be even better against a Wasatch team that came to town with a 12-2 overall record and riding a four-game win streak.
The Tigers proved to be a much tougher opponent, taking a 1-0 lead in the first half on an easy goal by Emrem Tanriover and holding Parowan scoreless for the first 55 minutes in a physical contest that saw referees handing out cards like blackjack dealers.
Bryan Byl finally got Parowan on the board with 26:44 left in regulation, scoring on a set piece from the corner that put the ball in heavy traffic in front of the box.
He somehow broke free from the fracas and stuck the equalizer into the net.
The score seemed to light the fire in Parowan’s offense and they spent the rest of the half attacking with a purpose they had previously lacked.
They monopolized the ball and started getting some good shots while keeper Bryce Thatcher held down the fort at the other end with some athletic saves that built up the crowd’s noise level and added to the Rams’ confidence.
But they would need more than just that.
While the momentum was encouraging, it wasn’t enough to get past keeper Abdul Manan Bhat who did well keeping the ball from finding its way into the net.
“Their keeper did an amazing job,” Daniel said. “We had a lot of good shots on goal and (he) was just excellent.”
The Rams just had to wait for the moment to strike and, with Manan Bhat away from the net, Wesley Byl found himself in great position to stick the winner.