Sandy • After giving up a goal in the fourth minute of the match, it became clear the Waterford girls' soccer team would have to do something it hadn't done all season to reach its fifth straight title game come from behind.
Two first-half goals from Grace Sponaugle and an unbending defense allowed the Ravens to do just that in a 2-1 victory over Maeser Prep in the state Class 2A semifinals Friday at Jordan High.
After the game, Waterford coach Tim Dolbin said the experience gained from a come-from-behind win in such a crucial game could help the Ravens overcome adversity in Saturday's championship against St. Joseph.
"That's a nice breakthrough going into tomorrow," Dolbin said. "If we find ourselves down a goal, it's very easy to say, 'Look, what was the deal yesterday?' It's very easy to sell that to the girls. I think we just gained some critical experience."
The Lions jumped to an early lead on a penalty kick from Andrea Decker. In the 25th minute, the Ravens responded with a penalty-kick goal of their own, which Sponaugle lofted into the upper right corner of the net.
Three minutes later, Sponaugle struck again, this time on a well-executed corner kick.
While the Ravens controlled the action for much of the game, they were unable to gain a cushion. The Ravens failed to capitalize on a number of scoring chances, including a pair of breakaways near the end of the first half.
"You can put it away right there and sort of nail the coffin shut, so to speak, and you miss it, and they've got life until the very last second," Dolbin said. "It's nerve-wracking, absolutely. We missed some really good chances."
Dolbin said the Ravens struggled with the artificial turf's fast surface, and he expects a much cleaner performance Saturday on the grass at Rio Tinto Stadium.
"We didn't play well, in my opinion," Dolbin said. "I mean, we did some good things, obviously, but we didn't really play well. This surface, for this team this year, gives us a really difficult time. But it gave the other team a hard time, as well."