DRAPER It would be awfully tough for Highland to live up to the saying: "Act like you've been here before."
The adage is common when a player or team celebrates a little too much, but for the Rams, they truly haven't been here before. They are in uncharted territory. Tuesday's 3-0 win over East put Highland in the 4A state finals for the first time in its history.
"We don't know how we are supposed to act at this point," said goalkeeper Erica Owens. "We just know that we are one game away from winning a state championship. That is something no one would have expected before the season began."
Highland winning a state title was not even on the minds of its own players or coaches until just recently. Even though the team started the year 7-0 before going on a three-game losing streak, it took longer for the true belief to come.
"I didn't really know that we might have a shot at a title until we beat Murray in the last game of the regular season," said coach Lloyd Siegendorf. "When we beat them in overtime, that is when I started thinking that maybe we really did have a shot."
If the Rams had any nerves from playing in their first semifinal, they got over it quickly. In the game's fifth minute, Caroline Cook put Highland ahead 1-0. A ball was sent in toward the middle of the goal box, where East's keeper attempted to punch it out. She slightly misjudged it, and the ball went straight to the feet of Cook on her way in toward the goal. She struck the ball beautifully and hit the back of the net.
"Getting that goal early was big for us," added Siegendorf. "It calmed everyone down and let them relax and play their game. They all kind of just let out a big sigh and knew that they could do it. I also think that scoring that early took a little bit of the wind out of East's sails."
Britt Edman added an insurance goal in the 22nd minute. The team's leading scorer hustled forward with the defense as it tried to head the ball back to the keeper. Instead, Edman got to the ball first and flicked it with the outside of her right foot into the net. With the two-goal lead, Highland knew it would be tough to beat with Owens in the net.
"Erica is just a tremendous keeper," said Siegendorf. "She makes some amazing saves. She is one of the main reasons why we are now here and playing for a state title. She gives everyone on the team the confidence that we can go out there and play our game."Eliza Gibbs iced it when she scored in the 76th minute, and the Rams began celebrating like it was their first berth in a title game. Their chance to add a state championship to the already growing list of accolades comes Saturday when they will face Orem at Juan Diego at 2:30 p.m.
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