NORTH LOGAN — The matchup between the fourth-seeded and the fifth-seeded schools in the 4A Girls Soccer Championships didn’t end up being the close contest that both team’s records would suggest.
Green Canyon had no trouble controlling the game against its opponents from Eagle Mountain Saturday afternoon and did so with three second-half goals, eventually putting the Aviators away, 4-0.
The fourth-seeded Wolves (13-2-2) advanced to the semifinals to take on first-seeded Ogden (16-2) on Thursday at 4 p.m. The game will be held at Jordan High School with the winner earning a trip to play in the final at Rio Tinto Stadium the following day in Sandy. The Tigers beat Stansbury, 1-0, on Saturday.
Saturday’s game was moved from Green Canyon’s outdoor field to the RSL indoor facility just a short walk away due to the threat of inclement weather that was expected. Despite the change in venue, the Wolves stuck to the game plan and were able to work through a shaky first 15 minutes in which both teams had a fair share of the possession.
“We tried really, really hard to stick to our game plan and of course initially when you go up against a team that has scored a ton of goals, you want to be a little bit more on the careful side,” GC head coach Sven Rasmussen said. “We didn’t want to concede an early goal, but as the match grew, so did our confidence.”
It took a little while for both teams to settle in, asking questions through the first 20 minutes and finding no answers. However, the Wolves showed great awareness and were able to find an opening in the 24th minute when a ball deflected off a teammate into the path of Emma Deberard, who showed great composure to send the ball into the top-left corner and past the Cedar Valley keeper.
The opening half would end 1-0 in favor of the Wolves. After the first goal, Cedar Valley (12-6) never really threatened to score and were overworked for the rest of the match. Green Canyon got off 17 shots to Cedar Valley’s five over the course of the game, including 12 on goal, forcing the Aviators to make eight saves. The spark, as Rasmussen commented, came from midfielder Kylie Olsen. The senior put her stamp on the match through ball-winning, constant dribbles past defenders and contributed in three of the four Wolves’ goals.
“She is a top quality player, she has a bright future ahead of her up at Utah State,” Rasmussen said of Olsen. “Her passion, I think, is what puts her on another level and I mean you can see on her face after she scores how much it means to her.”
Green Canyon was the aggressor in the second half, controlling possession and intervening when the Aviators thought they’d be in for a rare chance on goal. Still, the Wolves weren’t able to find the back of the net for a second time, despite multiple opportunities, until the 74th minute. Olsen took it upon herself to dribble past two defenders and into the box, finding enough space to shoot a ball across the keeper’s body and into the far corner.
“We couldn’t stress more that the first 10 minutes needed to be everything, because that’s gonna set the tone for the whole game and we came out harder than we have in any other game,” Olsen said. “Second half once we got the second goal, I think it made us breathe, and then we could play and finish more. We’re the team that once we’re calm, we can play so much better.”
The goals came confidently and quickly once the game opened up a bit, and Green Canyon put three into net from the 74th minute into the 80th minute and stoppage time. Olsen grabbed a second goal in stoppage time, but it was in the 78th minute that cousins Ryley and Corey Thompson connected on the Wolves’ third of the afternoon.
Keeper Brooke Watkins earned her 12th shutout of the season and did so by making just three saves, never seeing a real threat on goal for most of the match. It was a total team effort according to Rasmussen, and the thought of playing in a semifinal match is something that has the whole team buzzing.
“I’m just blown away the caliber of girls that we have to be so disciplined, the level of execution in that second half was fantastic,” he said. “Just the level of trust in the system and each other to just go out there and do the work, it’s special. Case and point today, to take down a team that’s taken down so many teams — and to do it four-nil — that sends a message.”