Story and photos by Kurt Johnson
LEHI – Friday’s much-anticipated matchup between the last two Class 5A state boys soccer champions turned out pretty much as expected. Riverton, the 2014 title winner, scored the game’s lone tally in the 56th minute and made it hold up as the Silverwolves claimed a 1-0 victory on the road at 2013 champion Lehi.
The Pioneers were unable to solve Riverton a year ago, yielding five goals and scoring none in the Region 4 rivals’ two meetings. The new season revealed a similar problem for Lehi, as the Silverwolves’ senior goalkeeper, Parker Seegmiller, and a defense led by senior Jacob Van Skyhawk and junior Jake Cole, delivered its third shutout of the young season in opening league play with a significant win.
Lehi controlled the pace of play through much of the first half, but its ability to possess the ball did not lead to many good shots on goal. When the Pioneers did pierce the Riverton defense, Seegmiller was waiting, keeping Lehi striker Leo Fuchs and friends from finding the net.
Fortunately for the Pioneers, their defense was equally strong, and Lehi has a talented senior goalie of its own in Tanner Munson. Munson was equally impressive on his end, in the face of forwards Brett Smith and Micah Hammond, but the Pioneers gave up one too many set pieces, and it was one of those, a free kick in the 56th minute, that turned the contest.
Colin Horman hit the free kick in the direction of the Lehi goal, and just as it appeared that his ball had eluded the reach of his teammate, Ryan Christensen got his foot on it and back-heeled it past Munson and into the net. The change of direction from that touch was the break the Silverwolves needed to win their Region 4 opener and hand the Pioneers a loss in their second league match.
The flow of the game leveled out after intermission, as both team deployed strong ground games, moving the ball from side to side and looking for opportunities to push forward. One thing that is certain about both teams is that they will be difficult groups on which to score goals all year long.
In addition to the presence of talented, experienced net minders, both teams are physical and organized in the back. Nothing came easy in this one, as both defenses rotated to the ball and challenged everything.
As the second half progressed, and the Pioneers pushed forward harder and harder, their efforts were made more difficult when Isaiah Altamirano picked up his second yellow card and the team was a left a man down for the final five minutes. Lehi earned a number of late corner kicks, but could not find an opening in the Silverwolf defense, which held on to finish the win.
Lehi (2-3-1 overall, 1-1 in Region 4) hosts Herriman (3-1-1, 0-0-1) at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, while Riverton (6-0, 1-0) hosts Lone Peak (5-0-1, 2-0) at the same time.