WEST JORDAN The turf and Richard Harrison proved to be a lethal combination for the third-ranked Alta boys soccer team Tuesday.
Good things happened for the Hawks in their 2-0 first-round 5A playoff win over host Copper Hills when Harrison had the ball and players hit the ground.
Harrison scored one goal for Alta, which earned a match-up against Layton in the 5A quarterfinals Friday at home, and helped create an opportunity for the 12-4-1 Hawks' other score.
The game's first goal came in the 33rd minute after Harrison was tackled to the turf by a Copper Hills defender in the box. The referee awarded Alta a penalty kick, and freshman Derek Boggs booted the ball into the right corner of the net.
A minute into the second half, Harrison took a pass from Sean Patterson and slipped a shot underneath a diving Copper Hills goalkeeper Alex Silcox, who hit the ground as the ball whizzed by him and inside the near post for the Hawk striker's 13th goal.
"Richard Harrison played real well. He caused some problems up top," said Alta coach Lee Mitchell. "He's very active."
As far as Copper Hills was concerned, Harrison's goal should have made the score 1-0 instead of 2-0. The Grizzlies were convinced their player properly played the ball and a penalty shouldn't have been called on the first goal.
Copper Hills coach Michael Shaughnessy was given a yellow card for arguing his case, which was that it was "a fair tackle."
"It was a combination of embarrassment (and) I thought it was disgraceful in a game as important as this," Shaughnessy said. "I do not think (the referee) was 100 percent sure, and I think he made a mistake.
"Having said that," he quickly added, "I think they're a good team, Alta's a good, strong team."
The Hawks insisted it was the correct call.
"They took us down. There was no controversy there," Mitchell said. "He's one of the better officials in the state ... I probably wouldn't like it against us, but it still would be the right call."
Shaughnessy said he warned his players at halftime not to let their disappointment affect their play in the second half, but Alta added to the Grizzlies' frustration with the quick-strike goal by Harrison.
"The second goal hurt us," said Shaughnessy, whose team finished 8-7-1. "Then again, that would have been the first goal."
Alta's offense controlled the ball most of the game and its defense did a stellar job of pressuring Copper Hills when the Grizzlies had possession. Still, Copper Hills nearly scored a few minutes into the game Alta keeper Adam Frogley made a save that Shaughnessy called "beautiful" and hit the post in the second half.
"Copper Hills is a good team. They've gotten better year by year.
The coach over there's done a great job with them," Mitchell said. "Our kids played well. We did what we needed to do."
The Hawks just hope they turn more of their scoring opportunities into goals in the future.
"We did extremely well at creating our opportunities and getting around the corner, but we needed to finish a lot more, too," Harrison said. "We definitely had the momentum and the pace of the game for the majority of it."Along with Frogley, who earned the shutout, Mitchell said midfielders Justin Staples and Kevin Michels played well on a field that was shorter and wider than they were used to. He also called the defense "real solid."