SANDY — For a team that had never been to a state championship before, let alone won one, the Corner Canyon Chargers were calm as could be Friday afternoon at Rio Tinto Stadium, ahead of the 5A state championship game against the Murray Spartans.
“We said before the game that anything except a win is a failure,” Corner Canyon head coach Krissa Reinbold said. “They came out ready because of that. They were calm.”
The Chargers had experienced their fair share of failures over the years. Whether it be first-round playoff exits, or a quarterfinal bouncing last season, postseason success had evaded them.
It was that lack of success that inspired a new mindset this season, one characterized by never looking ahead, not to mention a deep-rooted desire to avoid coming up short again.
“We took this season one game at a time and in years past we looked towards winning state without actually getting there,” goalkeeper Haleigh Rasmussen said.
The altered mindset paid off in a big way as the Chargers defeated the Spartans 2-1 and claimed the first state title in school history.
“I am so proud of them. I am overwhelmed with joy for them,” Reinbold said. “They have worked so hard every day since July for this so I am so happy for them. Just so glad.”
“I am totally high in the clouds,” Rasmussen added. “Just so happy for everything we were able to accomplish.”
In beating the Spartans, the Chargers did something no other team was able to do this season. Murray entered the contest sporting a 16-1-1 record, its only loss coming in the season opener against Corner Canyon.
“It is funny,” Reinbold said. “Brady (Smith) — the Murray head coach — and I were talking about it. Who knew on day one that we’d see each other again in the state championship.
“We play each other every year, and it was fun to see the progress of both teams. They have gotten a lot better, and so have we.”
That was clear at the outset as neither team, both rather dominant throughout the season, was able to control the game.
When the goals did come they came in a blinding flash. The teams combined to score all three goals in a matter of minutes.
Corner Canyon was first on the board, in the 13th minute, courtesy of Megan Astle.
She calmly drilled a penalty kick into the back of the net, an opportunity created when Kayla Milford was taken down from behind in the box by Murray defensive back Emily Mills.
The impact of the score was felt immediately.
“It relaxed us a little, almost too much,” Reinbold said. “It relaxed us and helped get the nerves out of the way. We settled down and played better soccer.”
“It gave us a little more energy,” added defensive back Maryn Granger. “After that we settled in.”
That was clear a minute later as the Chargers were on the scoreboard again, this time thanks to the combination of Kenli Coon and Granger.
Coon took a corner kick for the Chargers, a kick Granger finished off with her head.
“I didn’t believe it,” said Granger. “I just tried to get my head on it. When it went in I was stoked.”
Just like that, the Chargers led 2-0 and seemed well on their way to another convincing win against the Spartans — Corner Canyon defeated Murray 3-0 in the season opener — and more importantly the state title.
Murray had other plans, however, and, in the 18th minute, the Spartans cut the margin to one.
Like Corner Canyon, Murray was awarded a corner kick and the Spartans opted to take a short corner. The ball eventually wound up in the box, where Chargers goalkeeper Haleigh Rasmussen deflected it away.
The deflection went directly to Spartan midfielder Sierra Montoya, however, and Montoya subsequently found a wide-open Sydney Wilcken in the middle of the box.
A swift kick later and Murray was on the board.
Neither team mustered a score the rest of the first half, and coming out of halftime the Chargers were a different team, a better team.
“We didn’t want to lose the win, we wanted to stay aggressive and attack,” Granger said. We wanted to look for goals.”1 comment on this story
Corner Canyon did just that — Murray threatened in the final moments when Sammy Sofonia and Montoya each had shots on goal, shots that Rasmussen dealt with — and even though they came up scoreless in the second frame, the result was the same. The Chargers were state champs.
“It feels so good,” said Granger. “We knew we could do it.”
“The girls were truly committed to each other,” added Reinbold. “They sacrificed for each other and when you sacrifice for one another that is when you see great things.”