SANDY — After settling down and catching its breath both literally and figuratively on Tuesday afternoon, Alta looked every bit the part of a state championship contender.
The Hawks scored five straight goals — after Riverton struck first — on their way to a dominating 5-1 victory.
"It was just a slow start. We haven't got to the regular season yet; you kind of expect games like that," said Alta midfielder Derek Boggs, whose team conceded a goal just four minutes into the game. "I think we answered that well, though."
Alta answered the challenge emphatically, particularly Boggs.
In the 16th minute Boggs took a cleat to the groin and needed well more than a minute to collect himself. After shaking it off, the Alta senior took the ensuing free kick and curled a fantastic 35-yard shot just under the cross bar.
The goal leveled the score at 1-1 and negated Riverton's bright start that resulted in Kenny Marse's goal.
"I think we didn't come out as strong as we should, and I think Riverton is a good team and they came out and said 'hey, don't overlook us,' " said Alta coach Lee Mitchell. "And they had a chip on their shoulder because we took them out of the playoffs last year."
Alta beat Riverton 3-0 in the first round of last year's 5A state tournament, but the rematch wasn't nearly as close.
Ten minutes after tying the score, Boggs put his team in front for good after redirecting a corner kick.
"He's the kind of player you don't get too often. We've been lucky here at Alta to have a few like him," said Mitchell. "He's so cool and calm all the time, and he reads the game well. So he's almost like a coach out there working with the rest of the team."
Andrew Hawks got in on the scoring in the 33rd minute when he calmly slotted a cross from Tally Wilsher past Riverton's diving keeper to put Alta up 3-1 at the half.
Wilsher and Brandon Patterson tacked on second half goals in a game Alta enjoyed an 18-6 edge in shots, and 8-2 in shots on goal.
Outside of the opening five to 10 minutes, Alta's midfield controlled the match, winning almost all the first and second balls. From there, the Hawks knocked it around as Riverton was under pressure for most of the game.
"Instead of just directly dumping over the top, we're going to try and break teams down and pass it around and get good goals," said Boggs.
Alta improved to 3-0 with the victory, while Riverton fell to 1-1-1.