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Sandy • Sterling work by a couple of sophomores, one offensively and one defensively, made the difference as the Ogden Tigers won the girls’ Class 3A state soccer championship on Saturday.
With a narrow 1-0 win over district rival Morgan, Ogden (16-4) returned to the winner’s circle for the second time in three years. Morgan, meanwhile, had won championships three times in the last four years but couldn’t overcome the Tigers in this, the third meeting of the season between the two squads.
“It was honestly crazy, I just feel so overwhelmed right now. Last year was such a crazy year, we got all the way here and we lost in the finals (to Ridgeline in 4A) last seconds,” said Ogden sophomore Nevaeh Peregrina. “Being
able to win like that today was absolutely amazing, especially all the things we’ve been through as a team.”
Peregrina registered the only goal of the game six minutes into the second half. It came on the heels of a handball call on Morgan (17-3) and Peregrina launched a ball on a free kick from near the left corner, eschewing a pass to teammates gathered in front of the goal.
The Tigers’ sophomore had another free kick in the first half, but her ball then glanced off the left goal as the teams went into intermission scoreless.
“I think that fueled me, especially after missing that first one,” Peregrina said. “In the end it just came through for us. We’ve been working at those practices like no other.”
The first-place trophy wouldn’t come without some heart-stopping moments in the last 20 minutes. At the heart of it all, saving the Tigers’ day, was sophomore goalkeeper Emily Blackford.
Morgan freshman Macie Burton had a narrow miss off a free kick pass with 16:20 left in the game — and then came Blackford on the Trojans’ ensuing good chances.
On a touch shot by Morgan ninth-grader Lacie Poll, Blackford barely got her fingers on the ball and it dribbled slowly past the left post and out. With 14 minutes left in the game, a header shortly after was corralled by the Tigers’ keeper.
The best opportunity for Morgan came with 9:50 left in the game. A handball call in the Ogden box gave Poll a chance to tie with a penalty kick. But Blackford dove to her left and stopped the shot cold.
“I just played my game and just stuck with it I guess, had a good mindset,” Blackford said. “We took PKs at practice and that kind of helped me yesterday and I just kind of read where the ball was going. I’ve never faced that girl before in a penalty kick.”
“I don’t even know if she’s had a PK in a game, to tell you the truth,” Ogden coach Ryan Robinson said. “We practices PKs yesterday just to get our shooters in order and she was a little hard on herself because we were making a lot of PKs.”
But practice made perfect for the smallish Tigers keeper come game time. And Blackford’s efforts were taken note of by both benches.
“She did a fantastic job,” Robinson added. “There’s at least three shots that should’ve been in. We know their coaches really well, we’re in the same region. Several times we found ourselves looking at each other, saying, ‘Whoa, how’d she get that?’”
Morgan came into the playoffs as the top seed in Class 3A while Ogden was the third seed. The teams split in the regular season, with each squad winning on their home turf.
“We had our opportunities.
“Two great teams. I think if we play them again tomorrow, we win. The next day, they win,” said Morgan coach Bryan Searle. “Hats off to Ryan and the Ogden Tigers, they were fantastic.”