In most soccer games, a good bounce or a lucky break can change the momentum in a heartbeat — especially with a trip to the state title game on the line.
The Parowan Rams were left lamenting their missed opportunities.
Michael Thompson scored two goals, one in each half, as Rowland Hall shut out Parowan, 4-0, in the 2A semifinals Friday at Juan Diego High School. The Winged Lions scored twice in the first 17 minutes of the match and spent most of their time in the offensive end after halftime, frustrating the Rams at every turn.
In spite of the loss, Parowan finished its best season with a 15-2 overall record. Head coach Larry Daniel said his team had every reason to be proud of the effort.
“We just could not find the net,” Daniel said. “Their keeper had an excellent game, a game you never forget.”
The Rams had three good scoring chances in the opening 10 minutes, but came up empty on all of them. One shot sailed just above the crossbar, and the other two trickled just wide of the far posts.
When the Winged Lions had their chances, they didn’t miss.
After Parowan’s first good chance sailed over the top of the net, Thompson opened the scoring just five minutes in when he won the race to a ball against a single Ram defender and beat goalie Bryce Thatcher to the far post for the 1-0 lead.
Kyle Baranko got a similar chance in the 17th minute of the first half, beating his defender to the ball by a step and tucking it in from in close for a two-goal Rowland Hall edge. The Winged Lions wrapped up the first-half blitz when Junior Zoutomou waited out Thatcher and angled a shot to the far post from in close in the 35th minute for a 3-0 halftime lead.
From there, Rowland Hall didn’t let up, limiting Parowan’s opportunities on net until the outcome was long decided. Thompson would finish off the scoring with his second goal in the 70th minute and secure the team’s first trip to the 2A title game since 2009.
“We knew they were very athletic and physical,” Rowland Hall coach Scott Langone said of Parowan. “They can run really fast and put you under a lot of pressure.”
The loss capped a challenging fifth year for the Parowan program under Daniel.
“We did our best. People discounted us all year,” Daniel said. “Given the difficulties some of the parents have gone through, I’m proud of the boys and the way they played.”
Senior Tim Byl said that even though the ending wasn’t what the team wanted, the future is plenty bright.
“Our program is growing because we’re bringing in younger and younger kids,” Byl said. “From here on out, hopefully we can keep improving and take state pretty soon.”
Rowland Hall will play Waterford, a 3-1 winner over Delta in the other semifinal, for the championship at Rio Tinto Stadium Saturday at 1:30 p.m.