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The secret is out: Hawks No. 1

SHARE The secret is out: Hawks No. 1

Alta coach Lee Mitchell has known for two weeks what the rest of the state had proved Friday in Clearfield - the Hawks were the best soccer team in Utah.

Following Alta's 4-1 win over Bountiful for the 5A state title, Mitchell shared a bit of information he's been guarding for the past two weeks. The National Soccer Coaches Association of America has the Hawks ranked 19th in the country. He had his reasons for not making the rankings too widely known."We didn't want to do it and give them anything," Mitchell said. Of course, the Braves didn't exactly need anything extra to use as a motivating force. The state championship was on the line, after all.

And from the outset of the game, it was clear that both teams knew what was on the line. The final score may have ended up looking like an easy Alta win, but both coaches agreed that the contest was anything but a walk in the park for the Hawks.

"It was not easy at all," Mitchell insisted. "They had some bad luck, hit the post and missed some shots."

The Braves had at least three chances to score with the ball bouncing off the post. One Bountiful goal with 20 minutes left, was disallowed when the linesman ruled Grady Johnson's rebound shot from five feet out came as a result of being offsides.

"The score doesn't indicate what really happened out on the field," Bountiful coach Mike Parker said. "But credit has to go to Alta. The ball bounced their way. They put it in when we came close."

And the Hawks put it in early.

Scott Richins needed only two minutes to get off a wild shot where he kicked the ball back over his head and past Brave keeper Steve Cruze.

"That kind of set them back a little bit," Mitchell said of the quick strike.

After a few near misses by Bountiful, Alta's Jeremiah Bradley sliced a shot from the left side of the field into the right corner giving the Hawks a 2-0 halftime lead. Nate Murphy again gave Alta a quick-strike attack to start the second half and made it 3-0 on a penalty kick barely a minute after the intermission.

Bountiful finally got on the board with 31 minutes to play when Jimmy Ji headed a ball into the goal after a beautiful crossing pass. Johnson's offsides no-goal followed 10 minutes later and may have given the Braves an emotional setback.

When Bradley scored his second goal of the game with nine minutes to play, the Hawks had their third state title of the '90s all but wrapped up.

Hawk goal keeper Brandon Russell faced an onslaught of Brave shots over the final minutes, but was able to hang on for the win.