3A girls' soccer: Snow Canyon captures school's first soccer title
Sandy • Sarah Henderson felt a wind at her back as she lined up for the shot.
She whipped it over the wall of Park City players, and it sailed just high enough over keeper Skye Mooney's hands. Off the crossbar and in.
And the 72nd-minute goal was all Snow Canyon needed to win its first 3A soccer title in school history 1-0 on Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium.
"There's no question that Sarah's the heart and soul of our team," Snow Canyon coach Kenneth Knude said.
But as the Warriors gathered together after winning the championship, it was clear another person had been the squad's emotional center: K.J. Harrison, the 16-year-old schoolmate who drowned in June.
The team wept, prayed and sang "Happy Birthday." He would have been 17 on Saturday, likely cheering in the stands. The team played as though he were.
"The stars were aligned, we knew they were," goalkeeper Grace Walton said. "We had faith, confidence, we knew we were going to win."
The Warriors needed more than a little luck. They played on their heels in the first half. Park City attacked and attacked, playing most of the opening period in Snow Canyon's side of the field.
Walton spent a lot of energy diving and blocking the barrage of Miners shots. Her performance, and that of the Snow Canyon back line, helped inspire a second-half surge.
"We knew we were coming out the way the wind was rolling, so they'd get a few extra opportunities," Knude said. "She came up with some big saves, and you know we got some lucky breaks there as well."
The "breaks" Snow Canyon got amounted to a staggeringly improbable miscue by Park City standout forward Jessica Dancy, who fired off a shot in the middle of a scrum, but it bounced off the right post. She collected the rebound and shot again, but it ricocheted off the left post.
But the call that really sunk the Miners was a handball that led to Henderson's freea kick. Park City coach Chip Cook thought the contact was incidental, merely a bad bounce into the player's arm. The loss was heart-wrenching it was the second time Park City had fallen in the title game in the last three years.
"This one is tougher," Cook said. "I thought we were clearly dominating for most of the game. But give credit to her, because she's still got to make the shot."
Snow Canyon 1, Park City 0
R Grace Walton notches her fifth straight shutout for Snow Canyon.