In the 65th minute of the 5A state championship game at Rio Tinto Stadium, Michelle Murphy found herself on the bottom of a triumphant dog pile.
SANDY — The battle was everything a championship should be: Perfectly matched, well deserved, and chock-full of excitement.
In the 65th minute of the 5A state championship game at Rio Tinto Stadium, Michelle Murphy found herself on the bottom of a triumphant dog pile after she did what she so often does and gave the Hawks the 1-0 victory over the tenacious Viewmont Vikings with a beautiful high-arcing shot.
"I have no idea how it happened," Murphy said. "I saw an opening and shot it. The soccer gods were on my side."
Murphy, who has committed to play for BYU next fall, sent the ball sailing over goalkeeper Alex Cook's outstretched hands from just inside the 18-yard box.
"It was a close goal. She cracked one in and I did all I could, but I couldn't get there," Cook said.
Prior to that goal, the game was scoreless as the decisive contest exemplified a true championship game.
In the first half the teams were well matched, but Alta came out roaring in the second and Cook, who has claimed 12 shutouts this season, was tested time and time again. Her exceptional saves kept the Vikings alive until Murphy finally sneaked one past her.
The Hawks dominated the second half offensively, and Murphy had two near misses before that final goal. Lexe Selman and Madie Lyons contributed up front, controlling the ball and breaking things open for the Hawks.
On Viewmont's end, the efforts of Ali Forsberg and the Viking offense were unable to break down the solid defensive front anchored by Alta senior Taylor Campbell.
"We were so unified," Campbell said. "We weren't going to take a loss for an answer."
Although there were moments in the first half when a Vikings goal seemed likely, including two where the ball pinged around the box, they were unable to convert.
For Viewmont, it was all too familiar, as the 1-0 loss resembled that of last year's championship game. The Vikings fell to Brighton by the same margin.
"We had been here before so we had the confidence," Cook said. "We busted our butts, but we just couldn't finish."
The Rio Tinto Stadium championship scene was a customary one for Alta head coach Lee Mitchell as well, but with a positive light. The well-seasoned coach led the Hawks to four consecutive state championships, 2006 to 2009.
"It never gets old," he said. "To see their dreams fulfilled ... it's the most amazing feeling."20 comments on this story
Mitchell was proud of his team's efforts as a whole. "It was really a team effort tonight," he said. "That's the way it has been all year."
He was also pleased with Murphy's resiliency in the victory. "She's got the biggest heart. She never says die," he said. "BYU will be lucky to have her."
The title match between the Hawks and Vikings was every bit as thrilling as it promised to be.
In the end, Alta claimed a victory as pretty as coach Mitchell's celebratory toe touch.
"We're just soaking up the moment," Campbell said. "We're going to enjoy it."