Snow Canyon Warriors win 4A girls soccer state championship

Snow Canyon's Heidi Smith scores the game-winning goal in overtime to defeat Orem in the 4A state title game, Sandy, Utah, Oct. 20, 2018 | Photo by Dave Larson, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The Snow Canyon Warriors won the 4A girls soccer state championship Saturday, edging Orem 1-0 in sudden-death overtime.

The Snow Canyon Warriors celebrate after taking the 4A girls soccer state title, Sandy, Utah, Oct. 20, 2018 | Photo by Dave Larson, St. George News

The championship game, played at Sandy’s Rio Tinto Stadium, featured the two teams battling for 80 scoreless minutes of regulation, sending the game into a 10-minute overtime. If neither team had scored by the end of a second 10-minute OT period, the game would’ve been decided on a penalty-kick shootout.

Snow Canyon’s players and coaches were determined not to let that happen, instead deciding to focus on maximizing their chances to get a golden goal and end the game before it went to a shootout.

“Going into overtime we felt we had good momentum,” Snow Canyon head coach Kenny Kunde said. “We had the run of possession in the second half. Our (overtime) game plan was to create more  chances down the flanks. I knew we were tired, so the conversation with the coaches was who had fresh legs that would give us the best chance in OT.”

Snow Canyon’s Heidi Smith celebrates after kicking the game-winning goal in overtime to defeat Orem in the 4A state title game, Sandy, Utah, Oct. 20, 2018 | Photo by Dave Larson, St. George News

After making a few substitutions to bring some more well-rested players into the game, Kunde said he believed the Warriors would have the upper hand heading into the extra session.

The winning goal was kicked into the net about five minutes into the overtime period by junior Heidi Smith, the team’s leading scorer.

Coach Kunde described the game-winning play:

Heidi’s goal happened when we won the ball in the midfield and we made a few controlling passes in the middle. And then, one of our center kids played a ball into space down the right sideline. Rachel Durante chased the ball and outran two Orem defenders as she made a great touch to get angled at the goal. Then, she played a perfect drop pass to Heidi, who was waiting in the box to get it into the right corner.

Goalkeeper Megan Rodgers made three saves and picked up the complete-game shutout for Snow Canyon.

The victory marked the Lady Warriors’ first soccer state title since 2012. Snow Canyon made it to the state semifinals each of the past three years, only to fall short of the finals and come away empty-handed each time.

Kunde said a victory parade for the team is being planned for Monday afternoon.

Update Oct. 24, 3 p.m. to include photos of Monday’s victory parade, plus additional action photos of the championship game.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.  

Email: jrichards@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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