6A soccer semis: Copper Hills and Weber will meet in the state title game

6A soccer semis: Copper Hills and Weber will meet in the state title game

(Steve Griffin, KSL)

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DRAPER — Copper Hills soccer coach Eddie Moura doesn’t have to guess about his team’s resiliency. He’s seen it first hand.

First round: overtime win.

Quarterfinals: overtime win.

Tuesday’s semifinal against Granger: overtime win.

In the seventh minute of the first overtime, Jeremy Slick dribbled to his left foot and blasted a shot from the edge of the box. The ball soared and dipped into the top left corner of the goal to send Copper Hills to their first state championship game with a 2-1 win over Granger in the 6A seminals at Juan Diego High School.

“They get to overtime, we are going to do it,” Moura said. “It’s been three times in a row.”

But about midway through the first period overtime, it looked like the Grizzlies could be running out of gas. Copper Hills had controlled possession for much of the game, pressing far into the attacking third and generating chance after chance. All those runs looked like they were starting to wear on the Grizzlies.

After a ball was sent harmlessly into the box, a number of Copper Hills players bend at the waist and rested on their knees. Exhaustion was sinking in. They were tired, but they weren’t done.

“We are a team that presses pretty high,” Moura said. “We demand a lot from the kids.”

Even with legs that were growing heavy, those kids were up to the challenge yet again.

“We told the kids to just keep going,” Moura said. “I know it’s tiring. The press is really tiring, But they didn’t care. They wanted this really bad.”

Copper Hills didn’t just have to navigate a third consecutive overtime game on Tuesday, it also had to overcome a one-goal deficit.

In the 29th minute, Orlando Gavino tracked down the ball just before it went out of bounds and lofted a high cross into the box. Lenin Villegas was there to head it home to give the Lancers a 1-0 lead.

Copper Hills got the equalizer in the 59th minutes when Marko Robles fired in a shot after getting set up by Jon Castro.

“This year the belief is there. The kids know that (we can win) even if we go down 1-0, even if we go into overtime,” Moura said.

They know it because they’ve done it.

And now, for the first time in school history, they’ll play for a state title.

"It was our time," Moura said. "We wanted to make history for the school, the community, and they just never gave up. I couldn’t be more proud of them."

Weber 3, Pleasant Grove 1

DRAPER — At the lowest point of the season, Weber High found out just how good they could be.

The Warriors had lost three straight games — a losing streak that cost them a chance at the region title and a higher seed at the state tournament. It was a skid that could have proven to be disastrous.

It wasn’t.

“When we beat Layton 3-1 we knew what we could do,” Weber coach Jan Swift said of the game that ended the losing streak.

After Tuesday, the rest of the state does, too.

Weber scored three goals in the first 15 minutes en route to a 3-1 win over defending state champion Pleasant Grove in the 6A state semifinals Tuesday at Juan Diego.

Senior Ben Pobanz got the first one less than two minutes into the second half. After a series of passes from Weber, Pobanz found himself free on goal and fired it past Pleasant Grove keeper Chris Jenkinson.

In the 47th minute, Jake Youngberg made his own run after a long ball, flying by the PG backline and beating the keeper with a shot.

Seven minutes later, Josh Maughan gave Weber a 3-0 lead by getting on the end of yet another over-the-top pass and burying it in goal. And that goal came after Pobanz had been sent off after picking up his second yellow card of the day.

“We saw their formation, how they play offense and defense,” Swift said. “We knew that if we played our game, we could win.”

Weber didn’t have an abundance of chances on Tuesday, but their strikers took full advantage when they came. That’s something that hasn’t always been the case this season.

Against Herriman in the first round of the tournament, the Warriors had 27 shots — they finished with just three goals.

“We’ve had a lot of shots just haven't been able to put them in the back of the net,” Swift said. “Finally starting to pay off.”

Tyler Ashby got the Vikings on the board with a goal in the 77th minute, but that wasn’t enough to spark a late comeback.

After the final seconds ticked away, the Warriors rushed the field in celebration. They danced, shouted, and jumped in unison together. Among that group were a number of seniors — players that missed their graduation ceremony on Tuesday to play the game (they received their diplomas during an award assembly on Monday, Swift said).

The moment made the Weber head coach recall his 2004 team. That was the last Weber squad to win a state title and it was a team his son was on.

“We talked about that," Swift said, referring to his son. "'What do you remember about graduation? What do you remember about taking state? You remember taking state.”

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