WOODS CROSS — The 5A semifinal round pitted an unparalleled, talent-laden roster against a team with a knack for finding the net.
The Brighton Bengals ousted the top-scoring team from 5A, the Weber Warriors, 3-1 on Tuesday at Woods Cross High School to return to Rio Tinto Stadium for a redemption chance at the title.
With a near flawless record of 17-1-0 and 16 consecutive victories, the Bengals have earned the opportunity to cap their dream season with a 5A state title.
"I can't wait," Brighton head coach Russ Boyer said. "I wish we could play it right now."
The road to Rio Tinto was no easy jaunt, as the Bengals suffered a scare in the opening round of the playoffs, barely defeating Layton in overtime.
Not only did Skyler Milne secure the victory over the Lancers with a golden goal, he netted a hat trick in the quarterfinal win over Bingham before breaking things open in Tuesday's semifinal game with a goal in the ninth minute.
Milne, an experienced senior and team captain, received the ball 25 yards out, took a turn and went for the goal to snag the 1-0 early advantage.
The tenacious forward, who has notched five goals in the last three playoff games, retains a cool humility about his recent offensive surge.
"It's just being in the right place at the right time," he said. "That's really all it is. We have a good team. It's easy to finish when you have such good players giving you good balls."
Coach Boyer gave him a little more credit. "He's stepping up. In the biggest games, he's playing his best soccer. That's what we love to see."
The second goal came in the 24th minute as Taylor Fankhauser snagged a goal resembling Milne's from the left side of the box. The Bengals kept goalkeeper Joe Wheelwright busy in the net for the remainder of the half.
The Warriors, who lead 5A in scoring with 70 goals, struggled to create scoring opportunities.
According to coach Boyer, Brandon Wilde and Daniel Baggaley, the Bengals' two center backs, were solid all game long and heavily contributed to the creation of that struggle.
Goalkeeper Kolton Savage agreed, attributing a portion of his defensive success to his backline.
"It's really challenging but my defense has stayed strong," he said. "My two center backs have played great all season and they save me a lot. We play great together and connect well."Comment on this story
Savage displayed excellent effort in the box, leaping and diving to thwart several Warrior attempts in the final 20 minutes.
Brighton's Matthew Coffey furthered the lead to 3-0 in the 61st minute with his 12th goal of the season.
Finally, Weber's exertion was rewarded in the 62nd minute when Colby Wight was able to sneak one past Savage to cut the deficit, 3-1.
Though Weber's hustle was admirable, it was too little too late.
With the win, the Bengals are set to take on the Davis Darts in the 5A state championship contest at Rio Tinto on Thursday at 7 p.m.