Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SANDY — What the Cedar City boys soccer team wanted most was to get off to a fast start.
After playing — and losing to — Pine View twice during Region 9 competition, the Redmen knew they would have to offer their best and most efficient performance to best the region champion Panthers in the 3A semifinal game at Alta on Friday evening.
That meant they would have to take control of the game quickly.
With two scores in just the first seven minutes of play, the Redmen got what they wanted.
Those goals sparked Cedar, and the fourth-place team from the southern region advanced to the 3A championship game with a commanding 4-1 victory.
"We knew if we didn't came out and score quick and get them on their heels, it was going to be a tough game," said Cedar goalkeeper Kaeland Osborne. "We just had to give it our all, and we did."
The Cedar coach reiterated that sentiment, noting that scoring quickly gave his team confidence the rest of the way.
"They like to go out fast, and if we can get on them really quickly, you score that first goal, keep the pressure on, score another goal," said Cedar head coach Scott Kamachi. "It puts you in the driver's seat for the rest of the game."
It was seniors Brock Shipp and Mike Briano who put the Redmen in that driver's seat, scoring the early goals in the third and seventh minutes, respectively.
Michael Wade pulled Pine View back into contention with a drive across the middle and shot to the back of the net in the 14th minute. The Redmen responded on the ensuing kickoff, however, retaining control and nearly adding to their lead.
"I tell them, 'on the kick-offs, get the ball and go forward and let's go do something,’ ” said Kamachi. "When (Pine View) scored that goal, we took the kickoff and went right down and had a really good chance to score a goal."
Cedar senior Marshall Hunt added to the lead in the 65th minute of the contest but, in spite of the advantage, the Redmen were still not comfortable. The Panthers' energy increased in the second half, leading to more and more shot opportunities.
"A team like them, they've got some dang good players that can score really, really quickly," Kamachi said. "We knew there was no holding them off. They weren't going to give up, they were going to keep playing."
Osborne added that, when Pine View's Wade and Braden Johnston controlled the ball, his focus was heightened.
"Those guys, they are incredible," the goalkeeper said. "They have Michael and Braden, those two are fantastic. As a goalie, every time they touch the ball, I'm ready because I know no matter where they are, they can put off an amazing shot."
Junior Matt Allen ultimately put in the fourth and final Cedar score with just five minutes remaining, clinching a spot in the final.
Afterward, Kamachi felt that seeing Pine View twice and playing in the tough Region 9, which had three teams reach the 3A semifinals, prepared his team for what it would see during the playoffs.
"We didn't have any easy games," the coach said. "There's no games where we scored a bunch of goals and just relaxed. You had to play hard every single night. Coming to the state playoffs, that's the way it is. You have to play hard every single game or you go home."
Now, the Redmen have one game left, and this time they will play on the grass at Rio Tinto Stadium Saturday at 11 a.m., looking for their first state championship since 1996.
Sarah Thomas earned a degree in Mathematics from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing an MBA at Westminster College. She has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008.