Woods Cross • Gabriel Altheman suddenly had three defenders collapse on him while sprinting along the left side of the field, his favorite place to attack directly at backpedaling defenders.
But that didn’t scare the Bingham sophomore from completing the sequence of a lifetime.
5A title game
O Lehi vs. Bingham
At Rio Tinto Stadium
Thursday, 4:30 p.m.
The speedy winger dribbled through traffic, evading each individual defender before eventually coming one-on-one with Copper Hills goalkeeper Keaton Gallegos.
Altheman took a touch around Gallegos, got his powerful left foot on the ball and directed it toward the mouth of the goal Tuesday. No player from either team was close, and the whole stadium at Woods Cross High School took a collective gasp when the individual brilliance was capped off as the ball pinged off the far post and crawled into the net.
"They all hesitated," Altheman said, "and I just saw the ball kept rolling."
It kept rolling, and Altheman’s overtime golden-goal moment sent the Miners to Rio Tinto Stadium in Bingham’s 3-2 extra-time victory over Copper Hills in a Class 5A state semifinal.
Fans rushed the field. The crowd clad in blue cheered, and in the middle of it all was Altheman, the player Bingham coach Matthew Kennaley refers to as a lightning bolt.
"Sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet," Kennaley said.
The Bingham fight song blared, and a team that finished third in a talented Region 3 is 80 minutes from a Class 5A state championship.
"We’re playing more like a team than we were before," said junior Gage Davis, who scored Bingham’s first two goals. "We’re fighting more."
With a trip to the state title match on the line, the Miners fought back.
Davis scored the first goal of the match in the seventh minute, but Copper Hills countered with the next two goals as Connor Thompson and Dallin Noble gave the Grizzlies a 2-1 lead at the half.
Davis equalized two minutes into the second half, and the teams jockeyed for the remainder of regulation. Each team created chances but was unable to secure a game-winner.
Altheman took care of that five minutes into the first overtime period when he stared down three defenders and a goalie and took matters into his own hands.
"I think we just barely found out that if we want it enough," he said, "we can go get it."
He did just that.
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