DRAPER — Snow Canyon High always knew that breaking down Wasatch’s sweeper-based defense was going to be tough in Friday’s 3A girls soccer semifinal at Jordan High School.
All of Snow Canyon’s opponents in Region 9 play a flat-back defense, and it was obviously going to take the Warriors time during the flow of the game to adjust tactically. That’s a big reason why Snow Canyon wasn’t worried after a scoreless first half.
Coach Kenny Knude told his players a goal would eventually come if they continued to stick with the game plan. The breakthrough finally came in the 55th minute, as Meghan McKenna buried a cross from Callie Stewart to lead Snow Canyon to the 1-0 victory over Wasatch.
“There are nine seniors and we’ve been playing together since we were in fourth grade together, so being a senior and having this be my last year there’s no better way I’d want to finish it and no other girls I’d want to be doing it with,” said McKenna.
Her eighth goal of the season helped punch Snow Canyon’s ticket to its first girls soccer state championship game in school history. It will take on Park City on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Snow Canyon prepared for Friday’s game by having its JV team utilize a sweeper in practice, but McKenna joked that Wasatch obviously does it much, much better.
That was a big reason why Knude wasn’t surprised by the low-scoring affair.
“I thought there would be a little bit of nerves on both sides coming into a big game like this. We knew it would probably be a defensive struggle against them, we had heard a lot about their defense and how well they’d played this year,” Knude said.
Wasatch came into the game with six shutouts, but that was nothing compared to Snow Canyon and its 11 shutouts — including eight straight. The Warriors were particularly sharp with Autumn Shipp and Jaydn Losse on the field, central defenders who sat a couple of weeks late in the season because of various injuries.
Early in the second half, the game started to open up a bit more for Snow Canyon. Kylee Witwer nearly capitalized in the 49th minute as she banged a shot from distance off the crossbar. Six minutes later the breakthrough finally came as Stewart delivered a cross from the right wing that McKenna finished for the 1-0 lead.
“We weren’t be able to send those through balls up and over the defense that we’re used to, so we knew we were going to have to go to the outside and then cut in and make her commit to one side. That’s how we got our goal,” McKenna said.
Snow Canyon’s defense locked things down defensively the rest of the way with Wasatch struggling to create any clear-cut scoring chances.
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