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Snow Canyon, Orem advance to 4A soccer championship after thrilling semifinals

SANDY — During the 4A state playoffs, the Orem Tigers have had three dramatic endings. In the first round, the Tigers scored a goal in the second overtime period to win. In the second round, Orem knocked out Sky View via a Gentrey Gibson goal in overtime.

“I always feel like we can do this. We’ve done this before. It’s no different, we just need to do what we do,” Gibson said.

In the semifinal contest against Mountain Crest at Jordan High School, it was only fitting that the Tigers won via a walk-off goal. With just a minute until penalty kicks in a 0-0 game, Gibson found the back of the net off of a corner kick from Hailey Smart to send Orem to the 4A final.

“I just saw Hailey’s arm go out and I just thought to myself, ‘I’m going to put my head on this, no matter what,’ and I did,” Gibson said.

“The thing we talked about all week was that we thought we could score on a set piece if we got enough of them. We didn’t really get as many as I was hoping to. In the first half, we hit the post on one, our very first one. They kind of took away, we have a couple of plays that we do off of them, but she put a perfect ball in there and Gentrey was hungry, you could just tell. She had that fire in her eyes, she was looking for the ball,” Orem head coach Scott Wells said. “She’s the shortest one on the field, I think, but she also won the one last game in overtime. She finds a way to get on that ball. It was beautiful.”

Gibson’s goal put an end to a game that featured great chances from both sides in regulation.

“It was so intense. I feel like we worked really hard throughout the whole game. There were some periods where we got a little defeated, but we never let it defeat us in the whole game, we always picked ourselves back up and kept working,” Gibson said.

Now, the Tigers have a date with Snow Canyon at Rio Tinto Stadium tomorrow, and Wells plans to keep riding the momentum from nail-biting wins, led by his seniors.

“I think it stems from the captains and the seniors. We’ve really turned a lot of it over to them and they’re the ones that kind of give the pep talks, they’re the ones that kind of get the girls going, I just kind of come and watch the game and they kind of run it, so whatever they’re doing is working, and I’m going to let them keep doing it,” Wells said.

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Snow Canyon has finally broken through to the 4A state finals. After losing in the semifinals for the past three years, the Warriors finally prevailed, defeating Logan in a thriller.

“It feels good to get there. It’s been six years since we’ve been in the finals, and this was no. 4 in a row for semis, so it’s good to break through,” Snow Canyon head coach Kenneth Kunde said. “This group of seniors that we have has been playing together since they were probably nine years old, so it’s something that they’ve dreamed about for a long, long time and it’s nice to see it finally happen for them.”

Logan’s Erin Godfrey opened the scoring with a long shot from about the 25-yard-line on the football field at Jordan High School to give Logan a 1-0 lead. Snow Canyon knotted things up on a long goal from Ashley Brindley from about 20 yards out with one minute remaining in the first half.

The second half was a battle, with both sides missing chances. With but minutes left, it looked like the game was bound to go to overtime, but Tylei Jensen put the ball in the back of the net off of a corner kick to secure the victory for Snow Canyon.

“Oh my goodness, it feels unreal. I mean, we’ve still got tomorrow, we take it day by day, but it feels so good. I have no words. It feels so good,” Snow Canyon senior Arantxa Melendez said.