Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
SANDY — Each year, Rio Tinto houses a slew of high school teams chasing championship titles. More often than not, those stadium visits are composed of repeat trips for the powerhouse teams in the state.
This year, however, would be different as two new teams burst onto the scene in Class 3A and one walked away with the championship trophy.
Ogden, who hasn't won a title in a decade, refused to let history repeat itself as they made a playoff run and capped off its dream season with a championship victory over Cedar High School.
It all came down to a few seconds in the first half. Junior midfielder Avery Calton saw an opening, cut back against her defender in the box, and secured the 1-0 victory with a strike from the middle.
"There was a play like that against Park City that I didn't end up taking," Calton said. "I wasn't going to let it bypass me this game. I looked up and ripped it."
Although she didn't think it was one of her best shots, it was just enough to get through the legs of Cedar goalkeeper Tara Shipp, who got in front of the ball but was unable to prevent it from crossing the goal line.
"Avery loves to attack," coach Jason Steiner said. "That's what her role is. As soon as she got the ball, she went for it."
Although that would be the only goal, the Tigers kept the ball in their opponents' third for much of the first half and the Reds struggled to get off their heels.
In the second half, Cedar showed more gumption, playing Ogden tight and coming out physical. The adjustments evened things out but the Tigers held on and the rally was too late.
The Ogden victory was special as it finished off a 16-game winning streak for the Tigers and gave them a well-deserved ending.
"It's been a long time since we've even been to the playoffs (2008)," Calton said. "It feels amazing."
Coach Steiner agreed with Calton and attributed the win to hard work and an exceptional group of girls.
"We have special players on the field," he said. "Nobody outside of our group thought we were going to win anything, except for these girls and they really came together."
The trip to Rio Tinto was special for Cedar High as well, even if they did go home with the loss. The last championship appearance by the Reds was back in 1998.
"We were really excited to come to Rio Tinto," senior Makayla Warby said. "We worked really hard and worked for each other. We believed in ourselves and I think we are setting the bar for the girls coming up."
Ogden's victory will surely raise expectations as well. The team carried a unique closeness that was crucial to their success.
As a representation of that closeness, each girl wrote the number 497 on their leg. The tattoo was the sum of all the girl's numbers added together and signified the belief that success rests on the shoulders of the entire team.
"That's what got them to this point," Steiner said. "Being a team."
Calton agreed, "I've never seen a team with this much chemistry. We're a family on and off the field and I think we've set a precedent for the classes coming. We'll have chemistry like this for years to come."
"No one thought we could do it, except us, and that's special."