Sandy • Lehi and Alta needed penalty shootouts to advance to the 5A boys’ soccer championship game on Wednesday at Rio Tinto Stadium.
They’d needed penalties to decide it.
Alta’s sophomore goalkeeper Thiago Moreira stepped up Wednesday just like he did Monday, saving three penalty shots and leading the Hawks to a 0-0 (3-1) win and the school’s ninth state title in boys’ soccer.
Alta is now tied for most all-time in state championships in Utah. Bountiful High School also has nine.
“What we got to do today continued the traditions and the tradition of winning and the tradition of excellence that we started in 83,” Alta coach Mackenzie Hyer said. “It just goes to show and give credit to every player that has come before that we were able to continue those traditions.”
Hyer and her coaching staff know Alta’s tradition well. They are all alumni of the school. Hyer played for former Hawks coach Lee Mitchell, who left a legacy of winning in boys’ soccer at the school.
That winning tradition wasn’t lost on the current Alta players, either.
“Alta soccer is just such a big thing in a lot of people’s lives that go to Alta,” senior striker Brock Bennion said. “It just means a lot for the whole school and the community around us.”
Even though Moreira is only a sophomore, he is also well aware of the storied tradition that is Alta soccer. He said alumni from the school regularly attend practices and share stories of their days playing for the Hawks.
“We all wanted to leave our mark … on that legacy,” Moreira said.
The best chances of the afternoon came from Alta. Junior midfielder Caden Renfro and senior forward Jack Johnson each had great chances at goal in the first and second half, respectively, that needed to be saved by Lehi sophomore goalkeeper Kaleb Cowley.
Then late in the second half, junior midfielder Lincoln Eberhardt dribbled Cowley out of position and had only an open net with a few Lehi defenders to beat. His shot hit the side netting.
Pioneers junior forward Nathan Shepherd nearly won the game for Lehi. With six minutes left in the first overtime period, his shot barely missed wide left.
But it was Alta that prevailed in the penalty shootout for the second postseason game in a row. Bennion and senior midfielders Faris Kurdi and Carter Bell made the shots.
“We practiced probably 1,000 PKs over the season, just over and over and over again,” Hyer said. “We make it and take it serious every single time.”
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