DRAPER — Coach Lee Mitchell and the Alta Hawks are accustomed to big games, playoff excitement and state championships. Until last year, the Alta girls soccer team had won four straight 5A state titles.
This year, the Hawks are doing it with defense. Lexe Selman scored two first-half goals and Michelle Murphy added another late in the game as Alta downed Davis 3-0 Tuesday afternoon in a 5A semifinal showdown.
The victory improved Alta's overall record to 18-1. Even more impressive was that it was the Hawks' 17th shutout of the season. Alta's only loss this year was a double-overtime defeat at home to Viewmont before school started.
Those two teams will play once again Friday at Rio Tinto Stadium for the 5A championship.
"The defense loves it (the shutouts), but the offense loves it even more," said Mitchell, Alta's coach who captured the 5A state title with Alta's boys team last spring. "You hope to get better with every game. We hope that our next game is our perfect game."
If Tuesday's performance wasn't perfect, it was pretty close. Davis, the Region 1 co-champion, didn't put up too much of a fight. Certainly the Darts tried, but their offense never threatened Alta goalkeeper Elyssa Hashimoto with any tough shots and she escaped without any burns on the artificial surface on the Juan Diego Catholic High School field.
"It got a little bit tougher in the second half," said Hashimoto, who has been scored on just once (Copper Hills) since that 3-2 loss to Viewmont Aug. 15.
"Coach just tells us to play 'Alta ball.' That means to keep possession and be strong in the air.
Hashimoto turned away seven Davis shots the entire game. It's difficult to tell if she is one of the state's best goalies because her teammates rarely let her be tested.
"Our defense knows what they need to do," Mitchell said. "We try to get all of the players involved."
While the defense stymied Davis all day, there was little doubt who controlled the offense.
Incredibly, Alta has outscored its opponents this year 104-4. Selman and Murphy have combined for 59 of Alta's goals. Selman put the Hawks on top 20 minutes into the game, and sent another shot over the ahead of Davis keeper Dani Mackay and into the net just before intermission for a 2-0 lead.
Murphy added Alta's last score with 15 minutes remaining and the Hawks started substituting frequently after that. While Mackay did give up three scores, that's still an impressive accomplishment. Alta has never scored less than two goals all season, and that happened just three times.
That statistic may be tested Friday.
"We have to always be ready no matter who we're playing," Hashimoto said. "Coach always says the next game is the biggest of the year."
Not much doubt about that now.