Sandy • Amid the chaos of celebration, the water-bottle showers and screams of elation, one voice stood out from the mass of white jerseys jumping with joy: “It never gets old!”
The Alta Hawks are indeed back in a familiar spot: Class 5A soccer champions for the second time in as many years thanks to a 2-1 victory over the Viewmont Vikings on Thursday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.
As his teammates lifted another trophy, Cole Fassler hunched over, put his hands on his knees, and asked for a moment to catch his breath.
“I don’t even know what to say,” the Alta senior huffed.
The white-clad fans in the west seats at Rio Tinto Stadium would say it for him.
“M-V-P! M-V-P!” they chanted.
With the Class 5A state title on the line, Fassler was involved in both of his team’s goals.
“It’s unreal,” said Fassler after he collected himself. “We made history tonight. We’re the first Alta boys team to go back-to-back.”
On the other end of the field, the Vikings lay on the ground and stared up at the sky, some wiping tears from their eyes after an own-goal in extra time caused a heart-breaking finish to their season.
With the scored tied at 1 in the first overtime period, the lanky Fassler stood on the touchline near the corner flag and picked out a spot inside the 6-yard box. Then he wound up and let it loose.
“We do that every single game and almost every single game I get an assist off that,” Fassler said. “It works almost every time. … I just throw it as hard as I can basically and just hope for the best.”
The ball ricocheted off the black jersey of a Viewpoint player, past goalkeeper Isaac Roy for the winning goal.
“We were battling,” Alta coach Lee Mitchell said. “It’s hard for them, but you know you take what you can get. We put pressure on them. Sometimes that happens.”
The Class 5A title game was hard-fought indeed.
Ten minutes into the game, with the stadium shadows still stretching across the grass, Alta senior Jack Anderson delivered a corner kick and found Fassler unmarked in the box. The senior defender directed it with his right foot for the first goal of the game.
The goalkeepers and defenses would spar for the next 45 minutes until Viewmont striker Preston Pitt, whose late-game heroics in the semifinal earned the Vikings a spot in Thursday’s finale, beat Alta goalie Traven England to level the score at 1.
“It was heartbreaking,” Fassler said. “But I knew we had enough heart to bring it back. Even when they scored, I knew we were going to bring it back and win the state championship. We just have that much heart.”
For Mitchell, the victory adds another trophy to his storied career. No Utah high school soccer coach has won more games and now, with his seventh trophy coaching the Hawks’ boys team, no coach has won more championships.
“I’m tired and elated,” Mitchell said afterward. “… Right now it feels like I’m a million years old, but it’s great for these kids. They deserve it.”