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Boys soccer playoffs: Hart delivers heart, sends Roy to 5A final with winner over Salem Hills

By BOB JUDSON - Special to the Standard-Examiner | May 20, 2024
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Roy senior Aidan Hart, center left in white, heads in the game-winning goal during a 5A semifinal against Salem Hills on Monday, May 20, 2024, at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman.
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Roy players celebrate with fans after winning their 5A semifinal against Salem Hills on Monday, May 20, 2024, at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman.
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Roy senior Bronson Belnap (7) battles for the ball during a 5A semifinal against Salem Hills on Monday, May 20, 2024, at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman.

HERRIMAN — If a soccer game ends with a goal in extra time, there is a lot of talk about heart for the winning team and heartbreak for the losing team.

Appropriately named Roy High senior captain Aidan Hart was the root cause of those particular feelings in a 5A tournament semifinal match Monday at Zions Bank Stadium.

Hart scored a golden goal at the 8:29 mark in the second overtime period and No. 7 Roy advanced to the state finals for the first time since 2003 with a 2-1, pulse-pounding, upset victory over No. 3 Salem Hills.

“Obviously, when a game like that goes down to the wire, you’re looking at whoever has enough heart to win it,” Roy coach Craig Charlesworth said. “We told the boys to go out and give it all they had because that’s all that was left.”

At this point in the season, the Royals went to a play they could count on, and it worked to perfection.

“Hunter Patterson does most of our free kicks; Aiden Hart heads in tons of goals. That’s kind of one of the things we’ve done for a long time and it worked out to be the winner,” Charlesworth said.

For his part, Hart anticipated the kick and was in perfect position, and a little bit lucky on the back end of the play.

“I just kind of saw the ball coming; I knew we needed a goal so I fought for it and tried to get it in the net. At first, I didn’t think it was going to go in. I’m trying to aim for the back post. Follow the ball and see where it goes,” Hart said. “We’ve played together for a long time now; we know how we play. We’re family.”

David Rangel got Roy (14-3) on the board and a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute on a penalty kick and the Royals defense made it stand up successfully alternating Xander Allred and Colby Frokjer in goal.

“It took a while to figure out what they ran … after that we knew what they were trying to do and we shut it down,” Hart said.

But the Skyhawks (14-3) tied it at 1-1 on a penalty kick by Carson Bybee midway through the second half and that’s the way it remained through one overtime session.

“We felt pretty confident for most of the game … obviously, in a semifinal anything can happen,” Charlesworth said. “It’s too bad we had to go to OT, but it’s nice we were able to pull it out in the overtime.”

The Royals continue to be bracket busters, beating No. 2 East last week before taking down Salem Hills, gaining swagger along the way.

“It’s an amazing feeling. These guys have worked hard all year. They set a goal; we knew obstacles were coming our way. Each team, each week — get that team out of the way and go on to the next one,” Charlesworth said.

Roy’s opponent in the finals, Wasatch, played the earlier Monday semifinal and that match also ended regulation at 1-1 before the No. 1 Wasps won on penalty kicks.

“We got to see them (today) and we’ll watch YouTube video, things like that,” Charlesworth said. “Looks like they’re a pretty darn good team. We’ve got a challenge in front of us, but we’re ready for it.”

Hart has mixed emotions about the championship final, scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday at America First Field in Sandy.

“It feels good to be going to the state championship. I’m nervous, but I think we got this,” Hart said. “Play hard; go out there like we did today and I think we can come out with that win.”

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