Draper • Much like her teammates have the last four years, Kaitlyn Palmer seized the opportunity when it presented itself during Viewmont’s Class 5A girls’ soccer state semifinal Tuesday at Juan Diego.
Palmer broke a scoreless game in the 54th minute, and the Vikings held on to reach their fourth consecutive state championship game with a 1-0 victory over Lone Peak. Viewmont won the state title last season after being runner-up twice.
“It’s just something special,” Vikings coach Emalee Tate said. “This is only my second year at Viewmont, and the coach before me [Eric Landon] did a great job preparing the girls. They set the standard the girls have lived up to and continued year after year. We’re excited to be back. A lot of teams don’t have that opportunity.”
The Vikings (14-4-0) will face Brighton for the 5A championship Friday at Rio Tinto Stadium. Brighton defeated Viewmont 4-1 in August.
Though much of the semifinal match was played evenly, Viewmont seemed to have an extra push in the second half. Plays went further into Lone Peak territory and the Vikings’ chances increased. Before long, Palmer took a through pass from Abbie Flandro and beat Lone Peak keeper Cassidy Smith to the ball.
“She was coming out and a defender was coming in, so I split them with the outside of my right foot,” Palmer said. “I looked up and shot the ball. It was on a silver platter from Abbie. I owe it to all the girls and how much they support us.”
The remainder of the match continued to be well played, and both teams created chances. However, Viewmont keeper Haley Johnson came up with eight saves to post her 11th shutout of the season. Tate said her team had to make adjustments in the second half.
“Lone Peak did a fantastic job taking us out of our game in the first half,” she said. “The girls responded really well and we were able to maintain possession much better in the second half. We got a great through ball, and Kaitlyn ran on to it.”
The win marked the third straight season that Viewmont has knocked Lone Peak (12-6-0) out of the playoffs. While Tate stopped short of saying the Vikings had the Knights’ number, she was complementary of her opponents.
“Their team is great,” she said. “Obviously they had a great run.”
Meanwhile, three members of the Vikings — Flandro, Jana Wall and Bailee Hammond — will participate in their fourth state championship game.
“It’s been quite a ride,” Palmer said. “We’ve never let down and practiced hard five days a week. We never take breaks. We are totally committed.”
O The Vikings earn a shot to defend their 5A state title.
• Haley Johnson recorded her 11th shutout of the season.
• Viewmont lost to Brighton, the team it will face in the title game, earlier this season.