Lightning delays and defense were the dominant stories of the 5A state tournament semifinals at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman on Monday. Here’s a closer look at how No. 1 seed Wasatch and No. 3 seed Alta punched their tickets to Thursday’s state championship at America First Field on Thursday at 2 p.m.

Wasatch 1, Skyline 0

Wasatch and Skyline renewed what’s becoming an annual showdown in the playoffs on Monday, and after splitting the previous two meetings with identical 2-1 scores, top seed Wasatch won the grudge match this time around.

Canon Downey’s goal in the eight minute was all the top-seeded Wasps needed as they marched past Skyline for the 1-0 victory.

Downey buried his shot from about 12 yards out after collecting a free kick from Hunter Cosper in the box and burying his shot into the side netting.

The goal was just the third of the season for Downey who was pushed up into the box for the set piece.

“Our goal was to put one away early and just try and keep going and keep going and keep going and our boys did a good job,” said Wasatch coach Jared Hendry.

Skyline had several chances to try and level the score, but Wasatch keeper Jackson Medina made several great saves throughout the match, including a Scott Sterling-type save with his face in the first half just 10 minutes after the opening goal.

“He couldn’t get his up so he just went with his face,” laughed Henry.

The shutout was the second straight in the playoffs for Wasatch and ninth of the season for Wasatch.

Medina and Downey were the catalysts of that strong defensive play once again.

Early in the second half the match was moving right along just fine with blow skies, but as dark clouds started forming over the Oquirrh Mountains, a few lightning strikes were detected and the match was suspended in the 54th minute. The match resumed briefly for just eight minutes about 45 minutes later before more lightning was detected and the match was suspended for roughly another hour.

“It was very loose, the boys were in there, they had some music going. We got ‘em some drinks, some food, some bananas and oranges and granola bars. They’re weren’t anxious at all, they weren’t nervous, they were just very much in the moment, they just wanted to play,” said Hendry.

Once the match resumed, Wasatch did well to deal with Skyline’s increased pressure to preserve the shutout and advance to the final where it will try and win its fourth state title in school history.

Wasatch’s last championship came back in 2021 when it beat Skyline 2-1. That season it was also the state tournament’s No. 1 seed.

Alta 1, Olympus 0

In the 99th minute, Alta finally figured out how to beat Olympus’ stingy playoff defense and is now one win away from a repeat 5A state state championship.

Brock Bennion redirected a free kick from Ryan Richards just before Olympus’ keeper could punch it away as he came off his line as the Hawks prevailed 1-0 with the game-winning goal in double overtime.

Just like in the first semifinal that had to deal with a lighting delay, Olympus and Alta weren’t immune as they too had a lightning delay in the 36th minute.

With the game starting two hours later than it was scheduled, limited pre-game warm-up, and then the lengthy delay in the middle, Alta coach Mackenzie Hyer said it was difficult for both teams to get into any kind of rhythm.

“It just seemed like the game needed the players to settle in,” said Hyer.

After the scoreless regulation, Olympus came out in overtime and seemed the team more willing to commit numbers forward to try and find the winning goal. Alta calmly turned them away and pushed forward the other way on a transition goal.

Ultimately, it was the 99th minute set piece that proved to be the difference.

“I think it’s very difficult to take state, but I think it’s a lot harder to get back to the state championships game, so just super proud that we’re all able to make it back,” said Alta’s Peter Affleck.

Hyer said the fight of her team, and particularly the 10 seniors, was critical throughout the match.

“They know what it means to do hard and dig deep and find a way to win,” said Hyer.