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The return of a few pivotal players, coupled with some great defending and an opportunistic mentality on set pieces was exactly what the doctor ordered for Logan’s girls soccer program.

The eighth-seeded Grizzlies scored twice in a nine-minute stretch of the first half and got a memorable goal from goalkeeper Milly Garren late in the second half on their way to a 3-0 victory over ninth-seeded Pine View in the opening round of the 4A State Championships.

It was Logan’s second shutout of the season, but this one was drama free. The Grizzlies outlasted Bear River in a shootout earlier this fall in a game that was scoreless after 100 minutes of action.

“It was so good for my heart,” Logan head coach Natalie Norris quipped. “It was so fun to see us have some of our key players back and to finally get a shutout on our first playoff game, we’ve waited all season for that, and Milly Garren has deserved that every single day. And for her to get the last goal on an upper 90 shot with the shutout, classic.”

Up next for Logan (6-11) is a showdown against top-seeded Crimson Cliffs (15-2) on Saturday at 1 p.m. in southern Utah.

All five Cache County programs will compete in the quarterfinals as Mountain Crest and Ridgeline received first-round byes, while Green Canyon and Sky View won big on their home fields.

“I’m honestly super excited,” Garren said. “It will be challenging, but I’m excited to see what my team can pull off if we can play how we know we can, and if we can work together and stay positive.”

The Grizzlies got off to a bit of a slow start as the Panthers (7-10) took four of the match’s first five shots, although none of them were on frame. However, Logan was able to break through in the 21st minute courtesy of a free kick.

Sensational freshman Mia Lopez — who has been sidelined by a nagging injury for much of the season — played her free kick right into the heart of the 6-yard box, and teammate Delilah Orozco was able to finish in heavy traffic. The Grizzlies struck again nine minutes later when Lopez posted up on a Tyniah White throw-in, turned on her defender and carved out enough space to beat the keeper with a left-footed shot inside the far post.

“Really relieving. Our first 25 minutes was just straight panic and then when we finally got a goal, we were able to settle down and play a little bit more of our game,” Norris said. “I didn’t quite see what I wanted to see today, but I will take (a 3-0 final score) any day.”

The Grizzlies were unlucky not to net a third goal in the opening half. An Emma Browning corner kick found Onyx Kennington, whose shot was destined for the far post, but a Pine View defender cleared it off the mouth of the goal.

Garren made a couple of somewhat challenging saves in the second half, but Logan’s backline of Kennington, Julia Held, Aliza Dana and Laura Coppin was well organized and rock solid throughout the full 80 minutes.

“We have been struggling with (keeping our shape) a little bit as a cohesive unit and I felt like all four of my girls were just on it today,” Norris said. “And they worked well with each other, they supported each other and they got the job done.”

Garren, one of 10 seniors on the team, provided the exclamation point with a 38-yard free kick that tucked just inside the upper 90 of the left post. Garren has been a weapon on free kicks all season long — plus she is clinical on penalty kicks — although this was her first goal.

“We had some opportunities in the run of play and we weren’t able to finish them,” Garren said. “But our set pieces, I’ll take a goal off of a set piece any day.”

OTHER LOCAL MATCHES

No. 5 Green Canyon (9-8) jumped out to a 4-0 halftime lead over No. 12 Bear River (3-14) and coasted to a 5-0 win, while No. 4 Sky View (11-7) found the back of the net three times in the second half and prevailed by a 4-0 scoreline against No. 13 Hurricane (0-15).

As a result, the Bobcats will now host the Wolves on Saturday afternoon for a spot in the semifinals. The two teams split during the regular season.

Emma DeBerard contributed with a goal and an assist for the Wolves, who got goals from Cambree Tensmeyer, Austin Miller and Lydia Edwards, plus a pair of assists from Tabi Wagner. Bear River also had an own goal, which took place off of a Green Canyon corner kick.

Haylee Anderson notched her sixth clean sheet in goal for the Wolves, who were tested by the Bears both times during the regular season. Green Canyon won 2-1 in overtime and 2-0 a week ago.

“No drama today,” GC head coach Ed Heberling said. “The girls came out strong and were composed today. We were able to maintain control of the game and kept the game in our attacking half. Our team defense remained strong and gave up one shot on the day.”

Macy Sickler came through with a pair of goals and one assist for Sky View, which extended its winning streak to five. Macy Hellstern chipped in with one goal and one assist for the Bobcats, who got a goal from Maysen McKay and an assist from Shyanne Stokes.

Grace Glover went the distance in goal for Sky View, which secured its eighth shutout of the 2021 campaign.

“Let’s keep rolling,” SV head coach Jillian Carver said.

In other Saturday playoff action, No. 2 Mountain Crest will host No. 10 Desert Hills, while No. 6 Dixie will travel to No. 3 Ridgeline.

Jason Turner is a sports reporter for The Herald Journal. He can be reached at jturner@hjnews.com or 435-792-7237.

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