Viewmont coach Shawn Johnson minced few words after his Vikings defeated Highland 3-1 in the 5A state championship game Friday.
"I guess it's official now," he said. "We can say we're the best team."Despite owning the state's top ranking and a spot in a national poll, Viewmont sought approval in the form of a gold trophy - something defending champion Highland wasn't about to hand over without a fight.
"I think we are the two best teams in the state," said Highland coach Brock Varoz. "We could trade games for an awful long time. Today they had the breaks."
Well, at least one big one, anyway, according to the Rams.
With the score knotted at 1-all with 24 minutes left to play, Highland appeared to have taken the lead on a goal by Mark Pulver. However, the score was nulified by an offsides call.
"That was big," said Johnson. "The momentum changed in a split-second for us and we were able to get down there and get one."
Davey Lund assisted on a goal by Jason Roberts moments later as Viewmont took the lead for good.
"It was a beautiful cross from the wing and I was just fortunate to get it on my foot," said Roberts.
The play capped a controversial sequence that, for all intents and purposes, gave the Vikings their first state boys soccer crown in three years.
"I think that was a major change in the momentum - absolutely," said Varoz.
The Vikings agreed.
"I was like . . . relieved. That turned the momentum," said Roberts. "We knew we could come back from a goal down, but it is tough against Highland."
Even more tough when considering the Vikings had already climbed that mountain in the first half.
Jorge Estrada gave the Rams a 1-0 advantage with a goal just seven minutes into the championship match. The lead held firm until Dave Smith pulled Viewmont even by scoring 11 minutes before the intermission.
"I don't personally, but I guess the team likes to come back," said Johnson, who watched his squad overcome a 2-0 deficit with three second-half goals in Thursday's semifinal win over Brighton. "They're an incredible bunch of guys."
Following Roberts' go-ahead goal, teammate B.J. McNicol added an insurance score with 15 minutes to play.
"It came down to who wanted to work harder," added Johnson. "It was who wanted it most."