Prep girls' soccer: Experienced Alta, Viewmont squads to battle for title
The eight Viewmont seniors aren't going to be in awe of playing at Rio Tinto Stadium. They've been there before. Plenty of times.
Friday's Class 5A final at 4:30 p.m. will be the Vikings' third crack in as many years at a state title. The previous years, they've come up short first to Brighton, then to Alta.
Viewmont won't lack motivation against Alta again this year. The Vikings haven't yet so far.
"Our seniors have carried this team on their shoulders from day one," first-year Viewmont coach Emalee Tate said. "They've all helped the team buy into what our staff was doing, our different systems and philosophies, and they did it to help us get back to this game."
Alta will be fighting for its second straight title and sixth in seven years. But the Vikings will be battling to be better than second-best, a less-than-ideal label they've worn after their last two tries.
The Hawks are aware that the underdog spirit could be a powerful factor in the game.
"I think everyone is aware of the motivation," Alta coach Lee Mitchell said. "Of course they'll be ready to play. They've got a well-rounded team, and they've scored more goals than anybody in the state."
Viewmont will be quite a threat, even if the matchup between the two lacks some of the nationally ranked hype of last season. Five Vikings have scored at least 10 goals this season, partly a reflection of a weak region but also a testament to the team's deadly finishing ability. Heidi Lorschieder leads the team with 18 goals.
The signature of Viewmont is that anyone can score at any time. That was painfully evident to Davis, which lost its semifinal game to the Vikings in double overtime on a goal by McKenna Kimber, her first of the season.
"I think it shows how we've been able to fight through adversity and ride through the emotions of the game a little bit," Tate said. "We've really focused on maintaining the attitude and being able to get the job done. I think that win shows we can grind it out if we have to."
That doesn't mean Alta will be intimidated. The Hawks are undefeated this year, with only one game ending in a tie. Madie Lyons and Bizzy Phillips have combined for a whopping 42 goals to lead the team.
And Alta also has an experienced keeper who helped the team pull out a win last year. Elyssa Hashimoto set a state record for fewest goals allowed and shutouts last season, and the senior can lock it down in clutch moments.
"I think having her back there gives us all confidence," Mitchell said. "It's good to have a leader back there."
Bonneville and Bountiful might want to compare the size of the chips on their shoulders before playing for the Class 4A state championship at 7 p.m. Friday.
Both teams still harbor some feelings that it could've been them playing in Rio Tinto last year.
"I think last year, we kind of came into the semifinals expecting to win, and we just couldn't match Skyline's intensity," Bonneville coach Rob McDaniel said. "I know how Bountiful felt about its loss last year, and that game was pretty close, and yeah, I guess we both think we should have been there."
Both may be deserving, but only one will win. And looking at the teams, it's pretty hard to pick a favorite.
On one hand, there's Bountiful, which struggled in a tough preseason schedule but went on to roll through region play. The Braves boast a skilled midfield, led by sure-footed Jenny Skedros. Many of their players are tall and match up physically with just about anyone. The team is hoping to have scorer Kennedy Merrick back for the game after the forward was injured against Skyline.
Bonneville, the champion in 2010, is quite a versatile team as well. The team's defense-first mantra has paid off for senior keeper Megan Fillpot, who has 11 shutouts this year. Goals have come from a lot of players, namely Sienna Thornock, Ellee Hall and Emilie Tafunai. Balance has been key to the team's success.
Leaders such as Lexie Stratford and Ivy Ulrich have played a big role in keeping Bonneville grounded, making sure no one thinks the Lakers simply deserve a state championship.
The Lakers or the Braves will have to earn it.
"Our leaders have really done a good job keeping morale up and reinforcing the rest of the team," McDaniel said. "It will be pretty tough against Bountiful. They've got a good team."
Friday's playoff soccer schedule
P Rio Tinto Stadium
4:30 p.m. •Â 5A final, Alta vs. Viewmont
7 p.m. •Â 4A final, Bonneville vs. Bountiful
Jordan High School
11 a.m. •Â 3A semifinal, Wasatch vs. Snow Canyon
1:15 p.m. •Â 3A semifinal, Ogden vs. Park City
3:45 p.m. •Â 2A semifinal, Waterford at Maeser Prep
6 p.m. • 2A semifinal, St. Joseph vs. Manti