High school girls soccer: Mountain Crest tops Crimson Cliffs in extra time to win 4A state title
By Tom Ripplinger
The 4A girls soccer championship featured No. 1 Crimson Cliffs and No. 2 Mountain Crest, pitting one Mustang squad against another.
The top-seeded Mustangs’ 16-game win streak was halted just short of a state championship as Mountain Crest beat them 1-0 in a hard-fought nail-biter at Rio Tinto Stadium Friday night.
The game ended on a golden goal off the foot of freshman Summer Sofonia 20 yards from the box.
Following a Crimson Cliffs yellow card, the young defender came upfield to boot the biggest goal of her life.
“I knew she could do that,” Mountain Crest head coach Amber Hyatt said of Sofonia’s goal. “As I was walking down the sideline I was like, ‘I’ve got a good feeling about this.’ Whether we finished it after the fact or whether she finished it, I had a good feeling about it.”
Sofonia calmly stepped into the kick and put just enough air on the ball to make it glide over the outstretched hands of the goalkeeper and into the top corner of the net, and the celebration was on.
When asked what was going through her mind as she stepped up to make the kick that made her a state champion, Sofonia said, “I just pay attention and focus on where I’m going to put the ball and where I’m going to place it.”
The freshman hero couldn’t have picked a better spot.
“It’s been a little stressful. They could have made it a little easier on me,” Hyatt said of her team after its dramatic victory. “They played so hard. We’ve done all the hard work, all the training, all the conditioning that you put forth.
“It’s just so relieving to see it go our way and be a success for us. I’m so proud of the girls. They worked so hard. They played until the very end every single game all year long. They deserve this.”
Both finalists worked hard to get to Friday’s championship game, needing emotional penalty shootout victories in the semifinal round, and the final was another roller coaster for both sides.
The first half went back and forth with both teams getting good looks to put goals on the board. Crimson Cliffs found its rhythm as the first half came to a close and the No. 1 team nearly scored in the 40th minute on an Alexandra Blanchard cross into the box that found the head of senior forward Jantzyn Losee as she flew through the air.
Losee’s header sailed over the crossbar, however, and with it her team’s best chance at a first-half score.
Mountain Crest had its best opportunity of the half on a counter attack in the 33rd minute when senior midfielder Amelia Zilles pushed the ball up to a streaking Baylie Baldwin, who dribbled her way around two Crimson Cliffs defenders before getting a good look that was tipped off frame and out of bounds.
The second half saw many more opportunities for the second-seed Mustangs to get on the board. In the 66th minute Baldwin got behind the Crimson Cliffs defense with only the goalkeeper to beat. She snuck the ball past the keeper but struck it off the post and back into the field of play.
After coming mere inches away from winning the match in regulation, Hyatt galvanized her team with encouraging words.
“We just got to keep pushing,” she told her squad. “We got to keep battling. We got to keep looking for those chances. We can’t give up. We got to go to the ball. We got to win those 50-50s. All of those things will win us this game.”
Mountain Crest did just that. After 91 minutes of relentless play, the Mustangs that entered the match No. 2 are now No. 1.