Green Canyon head coach Kirt Sadler watched on as his senior forward Brayden Jensen chased a ball out wide during Friday’s 4A state championship match.

With 55 minutes already played, Sadler’s team had managed to create a decent share of chances, and with Jensen sprinting up the left flank, it looked like the Wolves would be generating yet another positive attack.

But Sadler said this moment felt different, though he wasn’t sure why.

“I saw it coming,” Sadler said. “We’d been trying to break the whole game … so when I saw Colby (Knight) making the run (up the middle), I knew that it was in. I didn’t know why, but I knew it was going to go in.”

A split-moment later, Jensen played a near flawless left-footed cross into the box, setting up what would be a game-winning tap-in goal for Knight.

The goal stood alone on the evening, as the Wolves defended ravenously over the game’s final 25 minutes to secure a 1-0 victory over Mountain Crest and their first state championship in school history.

“(This) genuinely means everything,” Jensen said, grinning ear to ear after the final whistle blew. “I’ve been waiting for this my entire life. As a senior, to make it this far and have the assist on the winning goal, it feels so good.”

The clean sheet ensured an unblemished defensive record during Green Canyon’s playoff run, as it finished with four shutouts in four playoff games.

That strong defensive form meant the team only needed to capitalize on one chance in order to see out the victories.

Senior center back Alan Cordova said the Wolves simply switched their mentality during the season, allowing them to find their peak defensive stride at just the right time.

“During region (play) we were in a bit of a slump, but after that we worked hard and got our mentality right again,” Cordova said. “We decided we were going to fight every single game like it was our last.”

Sadler went as far as to describe the renewed defensive mentality as animalistic in nature.

“We defended like animals,” Sadler said while pounding his fist against his heart. “No one’s been able to break us.

“Tonight, (Mountain Crest) is an amazing team, but they didn’t get many chances on goal besides free kicks. They’re just playing with (heart) and that’s what we asked for.”

Green Canyon split its season series with the Mustangs, winning 4-1 at home but losing 2-0 on the road.

With the Mustangs coming into Friday’s game having won eight of their last nine games, the Wolves knew it was going to require something special to beat their Cache County foes.

Mountain Crest came out of the gates aggressive, flying into challenges and winning balls in the midfield with their effort.

But as the Wolves settled in, they began to look like the more dangerous side. Their players looked more refined in the buildup play, which led to more quality chances in the first half.

The Mustangs started the second half as aggressively as they started the first, but this time they looked more threatening in the final third and saw a couple power shots fly just wide of the mark in the opening 12 minutes of the second half.

But when the Wolves secured the goal, the whole aura of the game changed. They knew they could now lean on what got them to the title game in the first place: their defense.

There was no shortage of punted balls, clearances and headers from the Wolves over the game’s final minutes, but they ultimately kept the ball out of the net for yet another game, and that was all they needed to do to become champions.

The Green Canyon players each took their turn brandishing the state trophy in front of their fans, who had yet to see one of their boys soccer teams in possession of such a trophy.

“It’s special,” Sadler said. “It’s sad that someone had to lose today, but I felt like we were the better team and we earned it.”

After years of disappointing results in the playoffs, Jensen said the Wolves made sure they weren’t going to disappoint this year.

“Usually we’ve been known for not having a strong region and weak playoff teams,” Jensen said. “We really wanted this one. We had a great first win and just rode the momentum all the way through. When we got (to the championship) we said we weren’t going to go home crying — or at least not crying sad.”

As tears could be observed streaming down Sadler’s smiling face following the win, it seemed safe to say that Jensen and his teammates had done what they’d said they would do.