Just over three weeks ago, Lehi traveled north to face off against region foe Alta. It didn’t end well for the Pioneers, and revenge was certainly on their minds Tuesday night when the Hawks made the return visit.
Under the lights, and with Senior Night emotions flowing, Lehi found what it was looking for in the form of a 4-0 dominant victory.
“Mentally they were ready to go,” said Lehi coach Tim Graham. “They literally have worked so hard, and just tried to focus on ending this season right.”
It was certainly an impressive start for the hosts, who before kickoff honored ten seniors with balloons, flowers and posters. Only eight minutes into the game, speedy senior Stephanie Roper made her impact felt. Roper raced past defenders down the sideline to catch a beautiful pass from teammate Reagan Jorgensen and gently pushed the ball past the keeper for the first goal of the night.
“It was a crazy night being Senior Night, and I just wanted to destroy them,” Roper said. “I just had so much energy and I just wanted to put it in the net. I wanted to win so bad.”
It was important for the Pioneers to strike first and set the tone for the rest of the game. In the first matchup earlier this season against the Hawks, Lehi found themselves trailing early and could never quite find the energy to get back into the game.
“Basically our problem was that when we played there, we got down a goal and we just shut down,” said Graham about the first game against Alta. “Mentally we were not ready and we worked on that, not just playing the way we want to play, but being mentally tough through adversity. We talked about it all week.”
Alta was not ready to give in easily and put pressure on the backline for Lehi for much of the first half. The Hawks saw one attempt fire off the crossbar in the 18th minute in addition to other close encounters, but nothing found its way past senior keeper Hayley Ogden, who as a freshman was encouraged to play keeper by her head coach.
Nights like this one certainly make the head coach glad he convinced the four-year starter to switch positions.
“Not only was she phenomenal technically and managing the game, but she led out and owned it back there,” praised Graham. “We are going to miss her.”
With just 11 minutes left in the half, fellow senior Roper struck again, this time racing down the opposite sideline, receiving the pass from junior Erin Dahl and slamming the shot into the back of the net. Roper’s 15th goal of the season, good enough for sixth in 5A, helped the Pioneers take a two-goal advantage into the halftime break.
Alta’s offense continued to press forward in the second half, searching for the opportunity to get on the board. Despite their best chances, each was turned away by Ogden, exciting the Lehi faithful further.
“It was a little intense and stressful but so fun. I don’t really know how to describe it. It was crazy,” said Ogden.
Lehi freshman Isabelle Dahl found the back of the net in the 59th minute, giving the Pioneers a commanding 3-0 lead. A fourth and final goal was just icing on the cake in the 63rd minute as senior Chantel Mingo somehow found the ball at her foot from the corner kick and sent it through a pile of Alta defenders and straight to the net.
“It was Senior Night, and the leadership was huge. You can’t ask for more,” said Graham.
The victory helped the Pioneers jump into a tie in the region standings for second place with Alta. With just one region game remaining in the regular season, Ogden is staying laser focused on what’s ahead.
“Finish out region and get ready for playoffs,” commented Ogden.
The keeper’s head coach couldn’t agree more.
“We made that run last year, and a lot of it just had to do with how much we loved each other and how hard we worked for each other,” said Graham. “We are seeing it now.”