ST. GEORGE – There is a cliché in sports about taking the season one game at a time, but with a possible championship looming on the horizon that can be a little easier said than done.
The Snow Canyon Warriors stand just two wins away from capturing their first girls soccer state championship and, like most coaches, Ken Kunde isn’t letting his team even think about raising the trophy until they actually qualify for the winner-take-all game.
The Warriors face Wasatch in the first semifinal at Jordan High School in Sandy. And although the Wasps, at 12-4-2, own the worst record of the four remaining 3A teams, the Warriors know not to take them lightly.
“This is a very good Wasatch team,” Kunde said. “We’re going to have to be ready to play. They have a lot of kids coming back that they had last year. We look forward to this being a good match.”
Wasatch used a stifling defensive effort to upset Spanish Fork, the top seed from Region 12, in their 3A Quarterfinal match Saturday. Combine the big win over the Dons with the revenge factor from last year’s quarterfinal loss to Snow Canyon and Wasatch has a perfect recipe for motivation.
The Wasps will have to duplicate the feat twice more to claim the 3A crown, but if there is a team that can pull off another few upsets, it’s Wasatch. Goalkeeper Julie Fitzgerald and her defensive sidekicks have already pitched seven shutouts on the season and are eager to add more to that list.
And not to be outdone by the defense, the Wasatch offensive attack is also clicking at just the right moment. The Wasps have outscored their last four opponents 11-3 en route to a four-game win streak.
Snow Canyon, 15-2, will have its hands full against the Wasps, but fresh off a thrilling quarterfinal win of its own versus Juan Diego, the Warriors should have the momentum and firepower to continue making a push through the 3A playoffs.
The Warriors are playing solid defense when it matters most. Snow Canyon has held its last three opponents scoreless and has allowed only three goals in its last eight games. And great defense not only keeps the opponent off the scoreboard, it also provides goal scorers more opportunities to do their job.
“Offense puts people in the stands, but defense wins championships,” Kunde said. “[The defense] is playing really well. They’re keeping good, solid shots away from Grace (Walton) in the box. We’re really excited to have her back there along with those other four seniors.”
The match between Snow Canyon and Wasatch is scheduled for an 11 a.m. kickoff Friday at Jordan. The winner will face either Park City (16-0-2) or Ogden (17-0-0) in the state championship game Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium.
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