HIGHLAND — On paper, Thursday afternoon’s Region 4 contest between the Lone Peak Knights and the Corner Canyon Chargers had all the makings of a heavyweight bout.
The Knights are the defending 6A state champions after all, and the Chargers the defending 5A state champs.
The teams had the two best scoring defenses in the region, too — Lone Peak entered the game having allowed only three goals this season, Corner Canyon five — top 5 defenses in the 6A classification, at that.
All of it promised a classic match between the newly minted region foes.
What happened on the pitch at Lone Peak High School was a different story.
Thanks to a stout defense, led by returning standouts McKayla Wetsel and Addison Symonds, as well as the goal-scoring efforts of Elle Young and Megan Gurney, Lone Peak defeated Corner Canyon 3-0.
Young, a freshman, netted a pair of goals for the Knights, who jumped out to an early lead, only to add to it as the game went on.
It was Young who netted the opening score, eight minutes in, when she bested a Chargers defender one vs. one, and then Corner Canyon goalkeeper Meg Covey with a shot into the top left corner of the net.
“She is just something special,” Lone Peak head coach Shantel Jolley said. “Being a freshman and playing varsity is special altogether, but she just doesn’t have a freshmen presence about her. She is a big-time player who has had a lot of experience playing at high levels in club.”
From that first goal on, however — until Gurney’s goal just before the end of the first half, which gave Lone Peak a 2-0 edge — the big-time players, the best players on the field really, were Knights’ defensive backs.
Headlined by Symonds, but including players like Emma Jenkins, Alyson White, Molly Wakefield and Katie Houston, the Knights’ defense was simply stifling and allowed only two shots on goal through the opening 40 minutes.
One of those, an attempt by Corner Canyon’s Macy Hart, had a chance to cross the endline after Wetsel ran up and deflected it, but the dangerous ball was driven out of the box by Symonds.
“We brought back our two strongest players from that core of defenders we had last year, in McKayla in goal and Addi at center back,” Jolley said. “They were our core last year and we were lucky to bring them back this year. Those two and their presence, and obviously their skill level and their ability (make us great), but our girls just work. They do the work. We had a little bit of an advantage on this field, but they are smart, good players and they do the work.”
After Gurney’s goal just before halftime (she was in the right place at the right time on a deflection in the box) the Knights visibly had all the momentum, which they carried into the second and final frame.
It was there, with 17 minutes remaining, that Young netted her second goal, on a nearly flawless cross across the box by Abbey Sampson.
“Nothing really bothers her,” Jolley said. “No game is too big for her. It is special and rare for freshmen.”
With the win, Lone Peak improves to 7-0-1 overall, 2-0-0 in Region 4, tied with American Fork for first place. Corner Canyon, meanwhile, drops to 6-2-0 and 0-2-0 in the region.