Whitney Garn’s goal and assist lead Riverton to 6A girls’ soccer state title

Silverwolves win first-ever state championship in girls’ soccer.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Riverton celebrates winning the 6A girls’ soccer state championships 3-1 over Skyridge at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Friday, Oct. 22, 2021.

Sandy • Twelve stitches in the knee and a doctor’s recommendation not to play were no match for Whitney Garn.

The Riverton High senior hurt herself in the semifinal game against at Juan Diego High against Layton on Tuesday. But Garn played anyway, scoring a goal and adding an assist to lead the Silverwolves to a 3-1 win over the Skyridge Falcons and the 6A girls’ soccer championship on Friday at Rio Tinto Stadium.

“I’m really glad she disregarded that advice,” Riverton coach Paul Moizer said.

Garn scored the game-sealing goal with less than four minutes left. It came off an assist by senior Morganne McCleary and gave the Silverwolves the 3-1 lead after Skyridge had dominated the entire second half.

From the moment she scored the goal, Garn knew the game was over and Riverton was going to win the first state championship in school history for girls’ soccer. But she told herself there’s still time left in the game.

“I was trying not to think about it,” Garn said. “But everyone was kind of giving me the eye, like, ‘Whit, that sealed the deal. You’re done.’ It was almost a sigh of relief.”

The age-old adage says “2-0 is the most dangerous lead in soccer,” and the Silverwolves almost became victims of that against the Falcons.

Riverton senior Mari Regla converted a penalty kick just three minutes into the game to give the Silverwolves a 1-0 lead. Senior Annabelle Christensen scored the next goal off a pinpoint pass from Garn with about 15 minutes left in the first half.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Riverton celebrates winning the 6A girls' soccer state championships 3-1 over Skyridge at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Friday, Oct. 22, 2021.

But in the second half, the Falcons came out determined and much more aggressive than the first half. Falcons junior Kylie Olsen crossed the ball from the left side to senior Emily Auman, who headed in the team’s first goal of the game.

From there, the Falcons sunk their talons into the Silverwolves and almost equalized on several occasions. But Riverton’s defense held on, led by some impressive saves from senior goalkeeper Dylan Huff.

“Our back line is a brick wall,” Garn said. “There’s no beating our defense.”

Skyridge played without two of its center backs in seniors Kylee Phillips and Alexa Balls. Phillips tore an ACL in Tuesday’s semifinal win over Syracuse, coach Toby Peterson said. Every Skyridge player had the number 5 written on one thigh in black marker during Friday’s game.

With Balls, she had a hamstring issue that wasn’t able to get loosened up enough for the title game, Peterson said. But those who played in place of the two seniors performed admirably, he said.

“We created opportunities,” Peterson said. “We were just a half-step short today, I think.”

Riverton has 15 seniors graduating from the team this season. Those players, Moizer said, believe in themselves and each other at a high level, it’s the closest group of seniors he’s ever coached.

“We’ve had good teams before,” Moizer said. “But we’ve never made a run like this.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Whitney Garn scored two goals. She scored one goal.