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High school soccer: Alta survives test from Bingham

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SOUTH JORDAN — 5-10-1.

That's the albatross around the neck of Alta's boys soccer team.

Coming off a state championship in 2006, the Hawks finished with that eyesore record of 5-10-1 in 2007. There were a number of things that went against Alta last season, and the Hawks did salvage something at the end by making sure they didn't become the first soccer team in school history to not make the playoffs.

But Alta feels it's much better than that, and its returning players have been trying to atone for last year's nightmare campaign.

So far so good.

Tougher tests loom on the horizon for the Hawks than the ones they've already conquered. (For those counting at home, the Hawks will meet No. 2 Brighton in three weeks and top-ranked Jordan in four weeks in what could turn out to be epic confrontations.)

However, the Hawks ran into a pretty good Bingham outfit Friday, and the gritty opponent didn't even seem to faze them. Cory Tanner, Justin Staples and Richard Harrison each scored , and No. 4 Alta dominated play from start to finish in a convincing 3-0 win.

Even legendary coach Lee Mitchell, who never allows himself to get carried away, conceded afterward that his Hawks looked pretty good. "I'm real happy with our passing today," he said. "We did well. We transitioned well. We finished OK. We defended OK. There's some areas we've got to work on, but for this early, that's good.

"And it's good to see how much they're having fun playing with each other."

That much was clearly on display throughout Friday's nonregion contest against Bingham.

The Miners nearly scored through Logan Clark inside the first 30 seconds, but it was all Alta for the remaining 79.5 minutes.

With Staples and Kevin Michels manning the middle, the Hawks dominated that part of the park. Harrison and fellow forward Sean Patterson were outstanding up top, and attacks came from all angles.

"It was just amazing because we were getting shots and attacking their goalie from everywhere," said Patterson, who was the beneficiary of a lot of that attacking but was denied a goal because of some super saves from Bingham goalie Nick VanderVeur. He also missed a couple of chances wide.

All in all, however, the Hawks have thoroughly enjoyed the opening two weeks of 2008, which Patterson said has felt "180 degrees" different to the first two weeks of 2007.

For all the returning varsity players, getting the taste of 2007 out of their mouths has been a top priority, and it's pretty clear they have lofty ambitions on top of that.

"We want to be remembered as the seniors that went from probably one of the worst seasons we've ever had to one of the best seasons we've ever had," said Patterson.

E-mail: drasmussen@desnews.com