BOUNTIFUL — For the first time in over a decade, the Lehi Pioneers are headed to the state championship game. The Pioneers punched their ticket with a 2-0 victory over the Woods Cross Wildcats on Tuesday afternoon.
The Pioneers dominated the soccer scene in the late 1990s with back-to-back titles in 3A. They have been facing a rebuilding phase since that time, however, and the recent boost to 4A surrounded the season with even more questions.
They have been answered with a strong senior class and junior Ian Ramos.
Ramos, who missed part of the season for Olympic Development Program, led the Pioneers with 12 goals in the regular season. With his team playing so well at this point in the season, the junior said he's glad to be back in purple.
"Oh it's nice. I'm out of words, I can't even explain," he said. "The team is doing good. We're rolling, we're playing our game."
With 25 minutes remaining in the opening half of the semifinal game, Ramos sent a free kick to the back of the net to give Lehi the early advantage.
"It was a good kick, a good cross. And then we got a hand ball so I was just there to put it in," Ramos said of the score.
The Wildcats controlled the game's momentum throughout much of the second half. They had a handful of shots on goal, but the ball ricocheted off of the post or was controlled by Lehi goalkeeper Riley Anderson, who earned his fifth complete shutout of the year.
With six minutes remaining, the Pioneers added an insurance goal when senior Braden Sorensen sent the ball across the field and sophomore Wesley Crump tapped it in. It was Crump's fourth goal of the season.
"Wesley Crump, man he's a hard worker," Ramos said. "He just goes; he never quits. He gives 100 percent all the time. He's a good player."
The Pioneers will play in the 4A championship game on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. against the Bonneville Lakers, who beat Dixie High on Tuesday. The game will take place at Rio Tinto Stadium, and Ramos is looking forward to the experience.
"It's unbelievable. It's a dream come true to play on that grass," he said. "We just need to bring it. Play hard and see what happens."