After a narrow loss in the 5A semifinals last season, the Skyline Eagles already had a championship-contending squad heading into the 2021 season, but when Lily Boyden made the decision to play for the Eagles her senior season, they became a nearly perfect team.
Perfection is exactly what the Eagles accomplished in Friday afternoon’s 5A state championship match at Rio Tinto Stadium. With a 3-1 victory over the Lehi Pioneers, the Eagles finished with an unblemished 20-0 record for the season and claimed the school’s second state championship in three years.
The title victory was Yamil Castillo’s third as head coach at Skyline, but he said that this particular championship carries a bit more emotion with it.
“Emotions are very high,” he said. “It’s just the perfect season, and it’s a dream come true. It seemed impossible, but the girls believed in themselves, they won game after game and fought until the end.”
Boyden — who opted to play her first high school season in 2021 after primarily focusing on club soccer in prior years — scored or assisted on all three of Skyline’s goals. The unconventional senior scored the opening goal in the 26th minute from 18 yards out and then put the game on ice with a headed goal that came with just 61 seconds remaining.
“It’s overwhelming. I just have so many feelings of joy right now,” Boyden said. “I am so glad I decided to come out and play because this is a feeling that I couldn’t have felt in any other way. I’ve won other tournaments, but nothing has felt like this.”
With the two goals and assist in Friday’s title match, Boyden finished her lone high school season with 34 goals (second most in the state) and 12 assists (tied for fourth in the state).
Castillo, who has coached his fair share of talented players, said that the skill Boyden possesses amazed him all throughout the season.
“That kid is incredible,” Castillo said. “She plays her heart out, she is very humble and she’s a team player.”
Though the championship game performance from Boyden and the Eagles clinched an undefeated season, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the team in blue and gold. Just five minutes after Boyden scored the game’s opening goal, Lehi’s Kamara Simmons tallied an equalizer for the Pioneers to make the Eagles’ lead short-lived.
Lehi, which had upset the second and third-seeded teams on its path to the championship match, was looking to make it a clean sweep of the top three with a win over the top-seeded Skyline.
The Pioneers carried the tied scoreline into the halftime break, but seven minutes into the second half, Boyden passed a ball to senior Berlyn Dibble, who pulled the trigger from nearly 35 yards out to score the go-ahead goal for the Eagles.
The goal was Dibble’s first of the season and will likely go down as the most important one of the campaign for the Eagles.
“I got the ball at the top of the box and just saw so many defenders (around me),” Boyden said. “I heard (Dibble) just screaming for the ball, so I passed it to her, she took a perfect prep touch, shot it and it went in. It was the goal we needed to put us over the top and it gave us all the momentum.”
Skyline put the clamps on the Pioneers the rest of the game and added a third goal for good measure to cap off the dominant season.
The big second half for the Eagles was a product of Skyline’s players simply being unsatisfied with the 1-1 tie it held at halftime.
“That was the goal all year — we wanted to be here at Rio Tinto,” Castillo said. “At halftime, the girls recognized they were playing even (with Lehi) and they said, ‘No, we have to make it happen. We didn’t get this far for no reason.’ We wanted to be No. 1 and they did it. They did it.”
For Boyden and the rest of her teammates, the Rio Tinto experience was everything they hoped it would be.
“The whole couple days leading up to today, I was visualizing myself playing well on this field, and to know that I achieved that is so satisfying,” Boyden said. “You don’t get this opportunity very often, and to know I scored twice, it makes me feel so joyous and happy. ... Everyone’s so happy and the work we put in all season has paid off.”