SANDY — In a physical Brighton-Alta matchup often referred to as the BYU-Utah rivalry of high school girls soccer, the end result resembled that of this year's actual big rivalry game, with the team in red and white winning by a landslide.
Not only did the No. 2 ranked Alta team defeat Brighton with a 5-0 victory Thursday, it captured a Region 3 title and broke the state record for consecutive shutouts with 12 in a row.
The 12 shutouts can be attributed to one of the best defenses in the state, led by Elyssa Hashimoto as goalkeeper. She is supported by teammates Taylor Campbell, Lindsey Butts, Sarah Bain, Kaylie Adamson, Aubrey Cude and more. With this many solid defenders, it's no wonder the Hawks now lay claim to the shutout record.
"Our whole back line is awesome," Alta forward Michele Murphy said. "I'm so proud of our defense. They all work together really well."
The senior, who has committed to play for BYU next year alongside Campbell, had her own major accomplishments to be proud of as she amazingly scored three of Alta's five goals.
"We wanted to come out and play hard," Murphy said. "It was our senior day, we were going for the state record, we were going for first in our region."
The Hawks did come out hard. In fact, they were on the board by the 13th minute against a Brighton defense that has earned nine shutouts of their own this year. Threading the needle with a beautiful assist, Murphy found Lexe Selman on the right side of the box. Selman capitalized on the pass putting the Hawks up 1-0.
The next Alta goal came in the 25th minute, and was a result of Murphy's persistence. Brighton goalie Natalie Stoven attempted to clear the ball, but deflected it off a Brighton defender instead. As it bounced behind Stoven, Murphy raced ahead and sent it burning into the net with her left foot.
Just five minutes later in the 30th minute, it was Murphy again with an impressive spin off her defender to open herself up for the one-on-one. Although Stoven thwarted the first attempt, Murphy captured the rebound and her second goal, putting the Hawks up 3-0 at the end of the first half.
Unbelievably, the second half would open with yet another Murphy goal just three minutes after the whistle. This goal was the result of a foul in the box giving Murphy a penalty kick and her third goal.
That score would remain the same for much of the second half as a physical battle unfolded, in part due to Brighton's frustration.
The final goal iced the cake as Madie Lyons booted one in from well beyond the box in the 70th minute.
"We played alright but we didn't show up to play," Brighton captain Lexi Felis said. "This game goes to show that we have a lot to work on, but we are capable of beating Alta."
There is certainly no question as to the quality of the Brighton team. With its only losses coming from the Hawks and a region record of 7-2, the Bengals know what it takes to win a game.
"We need to be more physical, coming out a lot harder in the first half and coming out with that fire," Felis said.
Alta dominated with 17 shots on goal while holding Brighton to six — a remarkable feat. Alta coach Lee Mitchell was proud of his team's accomplishments.
"It's a tough, tough region we're in," Mitchell said. "They're (Region 3 teams) not slouches. One of our goals was to win region."
Murphy was ecstatic to get the win and the region title.
"It feels so awesome," she said with a big grin. "I couldn't be happier."