West Valley City • Playoff games are the moment where every practice, wind sprint and weekend tournament comes together. It’s a lifetime of kicking the ball against the garage door and visualizing that winning goal. It’s every sacrifice you’ve made to improve your game and encouraging your teammates to get that next win.
All of this came together Tuesday for Bingham senior Baylie Saunders. She channeled a lifetime of work to lead the Miners past Hunter 5-0 to open the Class 6A girls’ soccer state tournament.
Saunders found gold early in the first round. She sent a corner kick to midfielder Bella Pirami, who buried it in the fourth minute for the Miners, who never took their foot off the gas. Saunders found the back of the net in the 14th minute with a screaming rainbow that just eluded the Hunter keeper.
“Scoring early really sets the tone,” Saunders said. “I felt like we dominated the game, held on to ball and maintained possession.”
Part of the reason Saunders can lead her team is because coach Tennille Vance trusts her decisions on the field. It’s not only her ability to set the offense but her ability to score.
“She’s a phenomenal forward — knows when to get the ball, make the pass or take the shot,” Vance said. “Baylie can make the shot anywhere on the field and find the back of the net.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME <br>From set plays to open field scoring, Bingham senior forward Baylie Saunders led her team to a first-round win. She scored twice and led the Miners’ offense.
The Miners’ best defense was the solid offense. Keeper Danielle Orr was perfect between the posts, but her success was tied directly to her team keeping the ball in Hunter’s half of the field for the majority of the game. The Wolverines only managed three shots.
“We came into this game looking for a shutout,” Saunders said. “It was a priority that everybody played hard and take care of the ball.”
The second half was all Bingham. Pirami’s crushing shot from midfield in the 50th minute proved to be too much for Hunter to handle. The rocket sailed over the Wolverines’ backline and through the keeper’s hands. Adeline Jensen scored the insurance goal in the 75th minute with dagger inside the box.
The only thing for certain for Saunders is that Bingham host Davis in a state quarterfinal Thursday.
“This is the first year I’ve ever made it past the first round,” Saunders said. “This win is really important. Looking forward to the next one.”