SANDY — The underdogs did everything they could to prevent a rematch of last year’s 4A girls soccer championship Thursday at Rio Tinto. But in the end, No. 1 Ogden and No. 3 Ridgeline were able to out-battle their opponents and will meet for a second straight year, with the championship taking place Friday at 2 p.m.
On paper, the first match tilted heavily in top-seeded Ogden’s favor as the Tigers had reeled off 15 straight wins and hadn’t given up a goal since Sept. 15. But 12th-ranked Crimson Cliffs played Ogden as tough as anyone has this season before succumbing to the defending champs 2-1.
“Crimson put a lot of pressure on us, a lot of high pressure, which in our region we hadn’t experienced as much,” said Ogden’s Tori Kalista. “I think we didn’t know how to deal with it at first. But once we adapted, we were able to pass it around them, and move on and off the ball to get our chances.”
Crimson Cliffs came out strong and used a multitude of subs to outmatch Ogden early and keep on pace with the Tigers for much of the match. But it was Ogden’s ball control that took over the game.
Meanwhile, the Tigers broke through when Kalista knocked in a well-earned goal after beating a couple Crimson Cliffs players with 13 minutes left in the first half.
The 1-0 lead held up into the second half until Ogden was called for a handball in the box. Allie Blanchard made good on the penalty kick to even things up at 1-1 with just under 18 minutes left in the match. After surrendering the penalty kick, Tiger goalkeeper Allison Collinwood came out of the box to make an outstanding save just a minute later to keep things even.
“She’s a champ,” said Ogden coach Ryan Robinson about his goalkeeper. “Really, we’ve given up two goals in 15 games and both have been penalty kicks.”
The winning goal came later in the half with Abby Buess hitting a pass that Celine Butters put in the net. From there, the 2-1 lead held.
“We haven’t had to play a tight game for a really long time so that was good for the girls. I think they showed a lot of character, worked hard, and found a way to get another goal and put it away,” said Robinson.
Game 2 featured No. 3 Ridgeline battling No. 10 Pine View. The Riverhawks were riding an eight-match win streak, but struggled to finish against a pesky Panther defense that eventually fell 1-0.
“I thought we controlled the ball fairly well through the middle,” said Ridgeline coach Mark Tureson. “A lot of it came down to we didn’t finish our chances. Their goalie made some phenomenal saves — we made some easy — but she took some really hard ones away. I have to give credit to the tenacity in the back and that goalkeeper did a great job tonight.”
If not for the play of goalkeeper Kayley Eaton, Ridgeline could have blown the game open on several opportunities rather than with just the one goal. The lone goal came in the first half when Adeline Fiefia squirted through the ball in between a number of scrambling players from both teams in front of the net.
Both Ridgeline and Ogden know tomorrow is a quick turnaround and that both will need to have the best outing of the season to win the championship.
“I look at this as two great teams going into a final and playing. Let what happens on the field dictate the champion,” said Tureson. “I’m excited for the girls to make it back and play the team that’s arguably the best in the tournament — that’s who we want to play against.”