Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes
This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
SANDY — Before the final game of his Alta career, senior forward Bryson Colemere wrote “give your all” on his wrist tape, a spot he could see every time he looked down.
He lived up to the mantra.
Colemere scored a brace to lead Alta to a 2-1 win over rival Brighton in the 5A boys soccer state championship match Thursday afternoon at Rio Tinto Stadium.
It was the Hawks’ first state title since 2011 — which also came against Brighton, that time a 3-2 win in extra time.
“We made it,” Colemere said. “We worked so hard; it wasn’t just me, but everybody else.
“There were a lot of good connections from our team. Everybody played really hard.”
Ben Fankhauser scored for Brighton (12-4-3) midway through the second half to pull the Bengals within a goal at 2-1. But goalkeeper Alex Johnson and the Hawks’ defense clamped down despite intense pressure through the final 10 minutes of the match to secure the win.
“Those are the best young men I’ve ever been able to coach,” Alta coach Lee Mitchell said of his squad. “I’m not saying they are the most talented team I’ve ever had, but they are the most classy young men I’ve ever been around. There’s nothing prettier than watching them.”
Colbey Morf had an assist for Alta (19-1-1), playing its Region 3 rival for the third time in 2015. It was Morf who booted a long ball out of the back on the first goal, and Colemere sprinted on to the end of it to drive home a ball from the middle of the box in the 25th minute for a 1-0 lead.
“It was a lot like the last Brighton game we played,” Morf said. “I had the ball open wide in the midfield, saw Bryson make that run, and played a chipped ball. He got an amazing touch on it, and just finished it.”
Morf threw himself at the Hawks’ final game in 5A with the tenacity of a senior, slicing through the midfield and looking upfield for Colemere and the Alta forward line. It’s an attitude he’s displayed all year.
“Colbey has been big like that all season long,” Mitchell said. “He does the things that people don’t see.”
Colemere’s strike was the difference between the two teams at halftime, though the Hawks led the Bengals with six shots to two. Alta nearly netted another one in the final minute, but Morf’s corner kick from the right side was redirected off frame.
Christian Bain ripped a shot just four minutes after halftime after Morf’s corner kick was cleared by the Brighton defense. But the BYU soccer commit’s half-volley sailed high of the goal.
From that moment, Brighton’s offense woke up.
Johnson came off his line twice in the same minute about 11 minutes after halftime as the Bengals outshot the Hawks 9-3 in the second half. Johnson punched out Fankhauser’s corner kick, then saved his back line by charging forward on a Bengal counter attack to snuff out any danger.
“Brighton’s a great team,” Mitchell said. “You have to throw the records out the window when we play. We expected (a lot of pressure) at the end. There’s no better way to finish the season.”
Colemere added a goal in the 57th minute, finishing off Alta’s counterattack that started with Morf’s clearance down the field to bang in a shot off the near post for a brace and a 2-0 lead for the Hawks.
“I knew the defender was going to come out to try to cut me down, so I just took whatever I could get,” Colemere said of his second goal. “They are a good team, a very good team. The final two minutes were super scary.”
Fankhauser pulled one back for the Bengals with 15 minutes remaining in the match on a direct free kick, one of nine free kicks Brighton earned in the second half. The sophomore midfielder stood over his set piece from 25 yards out, then banged it in off the crossbar and just inside the far post for Brighton’s goal.
But the Bengals would get no closer — despite a 30-yard free kick attempt with 58 seconds remaining that saw Fankhauser’s pass to Isak Hafstrom miss just high of the mark.
Johnson made three saves to earn the win in goal, and marshaled his back line on several other occasions as Brighton pushed forward in the final minutes searching for an equalizer.
“Nothing can beat this. It’s the best, especially against Brighton,” Morf said. “I’ve got a lot of buddies on that team. To pull it out, our last game (in 4A), to win the state title. It’s amazing.”
“It feels good to finish strong and come out on top,” Colemere said. “That was the goal this year. It feels great. We finally made it.”
Before the match, Mitchell and Brighton coach Tom Cushing had already worked out a way to play each other. The rivalry, it turns out, won’t go away with the Hawks’ move to another classification — even as the latest round of the back-and-forth chess match went to Alta.
“It’s good to let them know that Alta is not done,” Mitchell said.
Contributing: Ben Schroeder