The stage is set for what is sure to be a thrilling 3A girls’ soccer championship game this Saturday as two familiar foes have found their way back to the big game.

No. 1 Real Salt Lake Academy scorched No. 5 Manti, 5-0, to make it to the championship game for the first time as a 3A team after falling short in last year’s semis.

RSL Academy didn’t struggle much in blowing past the Region 14 champion Manti Templars. Despite Manti showcasing solid defense for most of the season, the Griffins solved that puzzle early, leading 4-0 after one half. In all, five different players scored. Freshman Summer Long foreshadowed the dominant effort, weaving around the Templar defense to score a goal just 18 seconds into the first half.

“We’re excited,” RSL Academy coach Sly Yeates said. “Last year, we felt like we missed out and we wanted redemption, so this year, it was our mission to get there again.”

The Griffins field easily the most experienced roster among the teams that played today, with 13 seniors on the roster, including leading scorer Natalie Scott who scored her 23rd career goal against the Templars, her 17th of the season. Underclassmen like Long and junior Emily Blanchard, who has 14 goals on the season, have fueled an offense potent enough that Emerson Winn’s second-half goal was the 90th of the season for the Griffins.

On the other side of the bracket, the defending 3A champion No. 6 Ogden Tigers controlled nearly every minute in a lower-scoring matchup against No. 7 Juan Diego, taking down the Soaring Eagles, 2-0, in a physical game on both ends.

It wasn’t an easy road for the Tigers, who had to take down No. 3 Morgan just to get to Thursday. Now, they’ll have the opportunity to keep their spot at the top of the mountain.

“They’re hungry,” Ogden coach Ryan Robinson said. “They’re ready for it. We try not to have too high of highs or too low of lows. We’ll treat it like every other game, but we know that it’s different, and they’re ready for it.”

Where RSL Academy has overpowered teams with its high-flying offense, Ogden has yet to allow a goal during the playoffs, continuing a seven-game program streak of shutout wins in playoff games going back to the start of the 2021 playoffs.

Yeates said that the Griffins would focus on their own game no matter who was waiting for them for the weekend.

“Our plan is to hold fast and stay true to what we do,” Yeates said.

Of the players set to take the field this Saturday, none will have seen her kicks hit the back of the net more often than junior Nevaeh Peregrina, Ogden’s leading scorer. The junior striker has been phenomenal with the Tigers with 38 career goals, 19 of them this season.

The Tigers saw the Griffins earlier this season in a non-region matchup. Ogden convincingly beat the Griffins, 3-0, but where that game was scheduled on a few days’ notice, Ogden coach Ryan Robinson doesn’t believe that result means much of anything heading into the title match.

“That was a long time ago, and we scheduled that game on, like, two days’ notice,” Robinson said. “We’re not looking at that as any sort of indicator.”

The championship game will be a sort of virtual homefield for RSL Academy at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, barely a stone’s throw from the school, something Robinson said will be another challenge the Tigers will prepare for.

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