WOODS CROSS — When they stepped on the field at Woods Cross High for their 5A semifinal match against Murray on Tuesday, the Fremont Silver Wolves knew they had a chance to reach uncharted territory.
Never before had a boys soccer team from Fremont High played in a state championship game, and the fifth-ranked Wolves knew they could get there by taking care of business against upstart Murray in the second-to-last round.
To their immense credit, Fremont's players took full advantage of the golden opportunity.
Junior Alec Stimpson put Fremont ahead 1-0 from the spot in just the fifth minute, and the Silver Wolves — after dodging some big bullets in the first half — took control of the match down the stretch to eventually win, 3-0, and advance to Thursday's championship game at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Fremont will face 18-1 Davis at 7 p.m. Thursday in what will be an all-Region 1 final. The Silver Wolves are the only team to have beaten Davis this spring.
Fremont will undoubtedly hope to show the rest of the state what it's all about on that grand stage, but just the fact that the Silver Wolves will be there is what was thrilling to coach Bryan Gines on Tuesday.
"It's something special for our program," said Gines. "We've worked hard through the years, between my coaching and all the other coaches that come up through the years. Everybody has strived for this, and we're real excited."
Ultimately, the difference Tuesday was the way Fremont came out in the second half, and that allowed the Silver Wolves to end Murray's magical postseason run, which included wins over powerhouse Viewmont and two-time defending champ Brighton.
Early on, Stimpson converted a penalty kick to give the Wolves a 1-0 lead, but they were then pinned back for stretches of the first half and were hardly in control when halftime arrived. That all changed in the second half.
Fremont started distributing the ball a lot better in the second half, and that led to scoring chances at Murray's end and few chances for Murray at Fremont's end.
"They started passing," Gines said of the second half.
Pass they did, and after surviving one scary moment which saw Murray nearly equalize, the Wolves sealed the game in the closing moments. Phenomenal freshman Jordan Preator slotted the ball home in the 75th minute, and Scott Chambers added a third goal less than 60 seconds later to put the icing on the cake.
Preator showed fantastic composure to slot home his 1 vs. 1 opportunity when Chambers headed the ball forward as he scored for the third time in as many postseason games.
"He's a freshman for heaven sakes," said Gines. "The kid, the last five, six games has come together as a total player for us. He gives the ball up whenever we need it, and he scores when it's there. He takes the shots.
"He is just unreal — unreal," added Gines. "The kid's gonna be something special."
He arguably already is, and for his part afterward, he said he's simply thrilled to be able to help his seniors accomplish their goals.
"It's good to be able to score and help out the team as a freshman," said Preator. "I wanna be able to help out the seniors to be able to get a championship, and I hope the freshmen when I'm a senior will help me out to do that, too."
Of course, Preator is far from the only shining star for Fremont right now. Whether it's the starters on the field or the reserves coming off the bench, virtually everyone is playing well for the Wolves.
And now the Wolves get to play for a state championship.
"Hopefully," said Preator, "we can perform in the finals."