WEST JORDAN — Fremont's soccer players had all the respect in the world for highly regarded Copper Hills when they took the field against the fourth-ranked Grizzlies in the quarterfinal round of the 5A state tournament Friday afternoon.
But they also believed in themselves.
Believed that they were also a really good team, and that they were going to play really well and that they were ultimately going to prevail.
Prevail they did.
Cory Craynor scored back-to-back goals early in the second half to shockingly put Fremont ahead 4-0, and the fifth-ranked Silver Wolves held on from there to win, 5-2, and advance to next Tuesday's semifinal round at Woods Cross High.
"It's just unbelievable," said Craynor.
At the end of one of the craziest quarterfinal rounds in 5A tournament history, Craynor's succinct statement fit on so many levels.
But don't count the Silver Wolves among the disbelievers. All along, they thought that what actually happened on Friday was going to happen — not necessarily in terms of what the final scoreline was but in terms of them being better than Copper Hills.
"Everyone was saying, 'They're fourth. Those guys are fourth,' (but) we were like, We're better than them,' " said Chambers. "We just knew we had to play like it. They're a good team. Copper Hills, they're a way good team, but we knew if we played our game, we'd win."
They did, and they did.
With the victory, Fremont advances to the semifinals for the second time in school history. The Wolves last made it to the second-to-last round in 2002.
Fremont will face Murray, a shocking upset winner over two-time defending champion Brighton in one 5A semifinal next Tuesday, while No. 3 Davis advances to face Granger, a shocking upset winner over top-ranked Alta, in the other semifinal.
Against Copper Hills, Fremont assumed permanent control early in the second half.
Leading 2-0 at halftime — courtesy of back-to-back goals by freshman Jordan Preator and Chambers midway through the first half — Craynor scored a dagger of a third goal just four minutes into the second half.
From the middle of the park, Preator brilliantly played the ball behind Copper Hills' backline, and Craynor surged through and slotted it past the onrushing goalie and into the net.
Copper Hills was completely shell-shocked.
"That was huge," Chambers said of his team's third goal. "They're an amazing team, and 2-0 is not good enough. They get one goal, and they've got all the momentum. We knew we had to get another one, or they'd have momentum and then we'd be on our heels."
Craynor most definitely didn't let that happen, and he added a fourth Fremont goal just four minutes later to effectively end the match with 32 minutes on the clock.
Copper Hills — to its credit — did continue to play hard against Fremont over those 32 minutes and got goals from star strikers Carlos Lara and Anthony Nixon sandwiched before Fremont's fifth goal by Chambers.
However, the mountain the Grizzlies were forced to climb proved to be too way steep.
Afterward, a beaming Fremont coach Bryan Gines said that all stemmed back to the third goal.
"It was dang fast, and the third goal was the killer," said Gines. "It's tough to come back from 3-nothing. I don't care who you are and how good you are. Three-nothing is tough, tough to come back. They did come back strong — I got to hand it to them. They came back at us, but we just held on."
And now the Wolves will play in the semifinals.Comment on this story
For several years, Fremont struggled to get out of the first round. Then it was the quarterfinals.
The Silver Wolves can now cross that one off the list of to-do items.
"It's huge," Chambers said of getting to the semifinals. "I've been starting since 10th grade. I played ninth grade, and I was in all those games playing when we lost. We got disappointed, and that sucks. I just (didn't) want (that) to be for my senior year, so it's huge."