Woods Cross • The last time Orem played for a title was in 1982. Soccer wasn't an official high school sanctioned sport in Utah, and Ed Louder was a sophomore in high school.
That all changed Tuesday evening.
Orem defeated East 1-0 in the first Class 4A boys' soccer state semifinal at Woods Cross High School to cement its trip to Rio Tinto Stadium on Thursday night.
"We've been playing well all year," said Louder, now in charge of the program he once played for. "We're grateful for the opportunity but don't feel like the opportunity is enough. We want to take care of business on Thursday."
Louder said the last time the boys' soccer program at Orem won a title was in 1980, but the game was a club sport back then. It was sophomore Emil Cuello's moment in the 47th minute that delivered the Tigers the opportunity to play for a real crown Thursday in Sandy.
The sophomore striker finished the lone goal of the match, and the Tigers defense stonewalled the Leopard attack for nearly the entire game. East had less than a handful of opportunities on goal, which Cuello wasn't surprised by.
"Our defense shut them down today," he said.
Orem quelled opportunities and created many, but it only needed Cuello's calm finish in the end.
"He's used to playing in big games, so we don't want to expect it from him," Louder said, "but we know he can do it."
Once the final whistle was blown, senior midfielder Alex Graham grabbed the ball and took a huge sigh. He smiled, then kicked the ball high into the air before being mobbed by teammates and fans.
Graham's grandmother passed away last week, and he showed the emotion for the chance to play at Rio Tinto, as well as a lost loved one afterward.
"This was all for her," he said.
While the Tigers walked off the turf at Woods Cross and onto the track, members of the student body began chanting "Rio Tinto." A blue and yellow flag whipped in the wind as Orem soccer team headed for the team bus, the season still very much alive.
"There's not one player on the field I don't trust," Graham said.
On Thursday night, that trust and unity very well could deliver the first title to the halls at Orem High School.