KAYSVILLE — May 15, 2018.
It is a date the Granger Lancers would rather forget.
On that day a little over a year ago, Granger faced off against the Riverton Silverwolves in the first round of the 6A state tournament.
The Lancers were the favorite, and rightfully so, considering they were the hosts and Region 2 champs.
Everything was set up in such a way for Granger boys soccer to take a leap rarely before seen in program history.
The Lancers had advanced past the first round of the playoffs only once in the previous 20 years, after all.
Last year was supposed to be the year that Granger soccer turned it all around and erased the disappointments of year’s past.
Instead, in heartbreaking fashion, they lost to Riverton.
The pain of that defeat stuck with them throughout the offseason, this year’s preseason and region play.
It even stuck with them following their victory over the Bingham Miners in the first round of this year’s state tournament.
“Last year was a real heartbreaker,” junior David Gaspar said. “We know we shouldn’t have lost that game.”
Friday afternoon at Davis High School, the pain of that defeat may have been washed away for good.
Granger upset top-seeded and top-ranked Davis 1-0 in the quarterfinals of the 6A state tournament.
“It really means a lot,” Gaspar said. “Last year was just a real heartbreaker and coming into this year we didn’t want to go through that again. This year we went all out and we just believed.”
“We knew coming in that we were going to have a battle,” added Granger head coach Bewar Yousif. “We knew (Davis) had a stingy defense and we knew there weren’t going to be many goals. Our boys stuck to what they are good at and they found some purpose to it. This team is unbelievable. Knowing where these kids come from, this means so much.”
Ramero’s story is one that holds particular significance, considering it was his goal, in the 68th minute, that won the game.
As a freshman a season ago, he made the varsity team but was plagued by grades-related eligibility issues.
As a sophomore, things hadn’t gone perfectly either, but in the playoffs he has been arguably the most valuable Lancer.
“It’s unbelievable,” Yousif said. “He had some eligibility issues with grades, but we stuck with him. We knew how big he was going to be for our team and he has come out on fire. He is coming on at the right time.”
Then there is Gaspar.
As a defensive midfielder, he is the team’s most important player and has acquitted himself exceptionally well despite playing outside of his normal attacking position.
“None of this would be possible is not for David,” Yousif said. “He is unbelievable. He is absolutely killing it. He does a great job keeping everyone under control.”
“For these guys to come in and win two games now, they’ve believed and they just have to continue to believe,” Yousif said. “They just beat a Davis team that is rock solid.”
Darts did not appear that way early on, largely due to the Lancers.
Playing their particular brand of possession soccer, with the ball staying squarely on the ground, Granger had the Darts flummoxed throughout the first half.
It was enough to create multiple scoring opportunities, including a shot by Romero two minutes in that forced Davis goalkeeper Noah Larkin to make a diving save.
The second half was a different story, though, as Davis began to exert its will thanks to an increase in physicality.
“It got a little chippy at times,” Yousif said. “Physicality came out and we started to get away from what we want to do.”
The Darts had plenty of game-tying opportunities, none better than a headed attempt by Kaden Chino, but ultimately it was Ramero, on a breakaway created by Gavino, who made good a try.1 comment on this story
“It felt good,” he said. “It felt good to score and it was all for the team. We work as a team and that means everything.”
“This is a special group,” Gaspar added. “I feel like we can win the whole thing. No, I know we will.”
Granger will face the Region 3 champion Copper Hills Grizzlies in the semifinals, which will be held at Juan Diego High School on Tuesday, May 21.
The Lancers and Grizzlies will face off at 11:15 a.m., while the other 6A semifinal matchup, between the defending champion Pleasant Grove Vikings and the Weber Warriors, will follow at 2 p.m.