SANDY — Davis coach Souli Phongsavath had all the faith in the world in his blue-collar, underrated defense heading into Friday’s 6A state championship against American Fork’s vaunted attack.
That defense proved itself once again on the big stage of Rio Tinto Stadium, blanking the Cavemen 1-0 as Davis won a heart-stopper in overtime for its first state championship since 2016.
Annie Haycock buried the winner on a corner kick four minutes into overtime as Davis avenged a 1-0 loss to American Fork in the state title game last season.
“I just think we had more confidence coming in. It was just the mindset. Last year it was a little bit of ‘We’re just happy to be here,’ and playing on this big stage maybe got to our heads a little bit,” said Phongsavath. “But this year we were on a mission and we were not going to settle for anything but the state championship.”
It was only fitting that the decisive moment came on a corner kick because Davis had a ton of them during the championship tripleheader nightcap on Friday.
Caroline Bitner opted for a short corner to Grace Nicol, who American Fork didn’t get pressure on nearly fast enough before she whipped a shot in from the edge of the penalty.
Somehow her shot didn’t go in despite ricocheting off the crossbar and then post. The initial rebound came out to Halle Lund, who tried to square up a shot but mishit it, with the ball only rolling a few yards. It turned out to be the best assist of her life.
Haycock was standing just a few yards in front of Lund, and she turned her hips quickly and ripped a shot into the back of the net, immediately getting mobbed by teammates in front of goal.
“I feel like I’m on top of the world,” said Haycock, a junior. “I could not have done it without my team.”
The match throughout regulation was very even, with both teams creating chances through the run of play. Davis created numerous chances through corner kicks, with American Fork keeper Abby Bloxham coming up big on multiple occasions with several diving saves.
At the other end, Davis keeper Taygan Sill made several saves of her own, including a fully outstretched one on a long-range shot from Ruby Hladek.
Sill earned her 12th shutout of the season with the win and had high praise for the defense in front of her.
“One of our biggest things was we never let them turn. I feel like we knew coming in we were not going to let them score,” said Sill. “I think our back four are very solid. I think that’s the reason we won this game, is because of them.”
Watch replay: Davis 1, American Fork 0
Phongsavath said his defense and midfield did a great job of clogging the middle and slowing American Fork’s preferred way to build the attack through the middle of the field.
Heading into overtime, Phongsavath told his players to just keep playing relaxed because with Sill in goal, even if the game stayed scoreless after overtime, they had the advantage in the shootout.
It never came to the anxiety of that though, as Haycock found herself in the right place at the right time to pounce on the winning goal.
“Special group of girls,” said Phongsavath. “They have a lot of experience, they’ve just learned from their mistakes … I’m so glad that it finally paid off for them.”