Keith Johnson, Deseret News
DRAPER – Deep into a second overtime period, Kealia Ohai realized she would need to conjure up a big play to help Alta survive Fremont's upset bid.
The Silver Wolves had stayed virtually even with the Hawks through two 40-minute halves and one ten minute overtime period. But Ohai and her teammates remained calm in the face of the storm.
"I had heard their defense was tough and that they were going to play me tough," Ohai said. "We just had to play through it. Our team did a really good job of not panicking and settling down."
Persistence finally paid off for the Hawks and kept them on track to adding to their streak of three straight 5A girls soccer championships.
Ohai helped return to the 5A title game once again when she notched the golden goal in the 95th minute to lift the Hawks to a 1-0 semifinal win over Fremont on Tuesday afternoon.
The senior raced forward and latched onto a through ball and calmly rolled it past onrushing Silver Wolves keeper Kelsey Parsons and into the back of the net.
It helped Alta avoid going to a shootout. Ohai felt confident that, even in the midst of the second overtime, the Hawks would find a way to get it done.
"We knew we were dominating over time and we knew we were going to win," Ohai said. "Looking at all the girls and looking at everybody's faces, we knew we were going to win."
With a pair of quality defenses facing off, it came as no surprise that scoring chances were nearly impossible to create on either side.
Fremont had allowed more than a single goal in a game just once this season while earning seven clean sheets. Alta, on the other hand, had shutout 10 opponents, while yielding just 0.65 goals per game.
Even so, the Hawks nearly changed the entire direction of the game before it was a minute old.
Ohai attacked less than 30 seconds into the first half when she cut in toward the penalty area and lofted a nice shot from five yards outside the area that forced Kelsey Parsons to make an early save.
But the Silver Wolves settled in after that near miss and made it tough for Alta to get in a groove on offense.
Ohai especially struggled to get going early. She found herself marked by two or three defenders much of the time and found it difficult getting quality looks at the net or setting up teammates in the right positions.
Things started to open up finally as the second half wound down. Ohai had a header in the 77th minute that Alex Pulley sent into the area. She put a lot of force into the shot, but it just sailed over the crossbar.
Fremont also had one of its better scoring chances in the second half. The Silver Wolves came close to notching a goal in the 49th minute when LaChere Earl fed a short pass ahead to Taylor Ivins and she blasted the ball up the middle. Ivins' shot went over the crossbar by just a few inches.
The Hawks managed to keep Fremont from getting too many more similar looks at the net. The back four – led by Kelsea Godfrey – and freshman keeper Elyssa Hashimoto produced critical plays when it was needed.
"They get overlooked a lot but they've been solid all year long," Hawks coach Lee Mitchell said, concerning his defense. "They're finding ways to get the job done."
Alta will now face Davis in the 5A title game at Rio Tinto Stadium on Friday.