SANDY — A school that hasn’t won a soccer title in nearly 25 years and another where the heartache is fresh after losing in the final a year ago are set for a 5A championship clash on Friday.
Olympus punched its ticket to the final with a 2-1 win over region foe Murray at Rio Tinto Stadium on Tuesday, with Bonneville following with a 2-0 win over Skyline.
For the Lakers, the 5A semifinal victory was sweet redemption after losing to Skyline in the championship a year ago.
“We have a young team, and all those girls remember that and they didn’t want it to happen again to the same team. It was definitely an extra motivator for sure,” said Bonneville coach Gavin Garside.
Bonneville’s loss to Skyline a year ago came late in overtime, but on Tuesday it took care of business in regulation with its ninth shutout of the season.
At the other end of the field, a pair of sophomores provided all the scoring Bonneville needed.
Summer Diamond scored on a dipping shot from about 30 yards late in the first half, and then in the 65th minute, Sadie Beardall iced the victory with a scintillating shot from outside the box into the upper left corner of the net.
“They all do it together, but they put a little more weight on those two shoulders,” said Garside about his two sophomores who’ve combined to score 30 goals this season.
No. 2 seed Bonneville will next take on No. 4 seed Olympus at 5 p.m. on Friday in the 5A state championship game.
The teams didn’t meet this year, but did square off in the preseason a year ago with the Titans winning 4-2.
In the first semifinal at Rio Tinto Stadium, Murray was hoping for a little revenge of its own after getting swept by Olympus in two region losses. The Titans defense, however, was too tough to break down most of the afternoon.
Olympus struck first in the 11th minute as Lilly Ford chipped a shot over Murray’s keeper, with the ball glancing off the bottom of the crossbar.
The Titans controlled the tempo until halftime, but early in the second Murray leveled the score on an almost identical goal as Oteta Kitona chipped a shot from the top of the box over Olympus keeper Callie Droitsch.
As quickly as the lead disappeared, Olympus regained the advantage on a set piece in the 54th minute as Emma Neff won the ball in traffic, with the ball falling toward Sammie Sofonia who showed off her skill to get a shot off for the eventual game-winner.
With the win, Olympus advances to its first state championship game since 1996, also the last time the school won a title. Olympus won three straight state titles from 1994 to 1996, its only titles in school history.
“These girls have the skill, they have the ability to win it all, I think now it’s mentally making sure they can and stepping on the field and playing like they can,” said Olympus coach Jamie Evans.
Olympus coach’ talked a lot with her players heading into the game about managing the emotions playing on the big stage at Rio Tinto Stadium, and she thought they did an outstanding job of that. On Friday both Bonneville and Olympus will get another game on Real Salt Lake’s home turf, and dealing with the emotion will again be key.