By Kurt Johnson
Photos by Dave Argyle (DBA Photography)
Picking the top anything of the year is never an easy proposition, and as we complete our third list of top Utah high school sports stories of the year for Preps Utah, we found that this list is no exception.
For the 2013-2014 school year, we released our Top 20 stories of the year, but this year, we have expanded our list to 25 stories, some of which combine multiple events that share common themes. Since the goal is not to be exactly right, as anything of this nature is entirely subjective, but to recognize as many of the great accomplishments of the student athletes across the state as we can, we hope you will understand.
Beginning July 13 and continuing for the next three weeks, we will release one or two items on our list per day, beginning with No. 25 and working our way up to story No. 1. Today, we announce No. 17.
#17 – Soccer rivalry revisited
The field of teams in Class 5A boys soccer was deep during the 2015 season, with talented teams that included defending champion Riverton, Lone Peak, Lehi and Layton. Keeping in mind the presence of those outstanding squads and even a few others, there was still something about this season…a certain feeling in the air.
Alta was the favorite from the outset, led by a strong group of senior leaders – Christian Bain, Bryson Colemere, Colbey Morf, Michael Deleeuw and goalkeeper Alex Johnson. Other than a midseason 0-0 draw against Brighton and a late-season stumble against Copper Hills, the Hawks played well the role of front-runner.
Alta and veteran coach Lee Mitchell had won six state championships prior to this season, and as they pursued No. 6, that familiar feeling had as much to do with another team, Brighton, as it did with the likelihood that another banner was headed home with the Hawks. The last two Alta state championships (2006 and 2011) came after overtime wins in state championship games against its neighbor and long-time region rival.
The Bengals are a six-time state champion themselves, with titles in 1989, 1993, 1999, 2000, 2008 and 2009. In addition to the 2006 and 2011 runner-up results at the hands of Alta, Brighton also finished second to Weber in 2004 and to Davis in 2012. Proximity is a big part of the Alta-Brighton rivalry, but the relative successes of these two soccer programs has a lot to do with it a well.
Despite a regular-season ending 3-0 victory by the Hawks over Brighton, the competitive level between the two seemed to be more clearly measured by that 0-0 draw in the middle of the Region 3 campaign. When the two teams eventually did arrive together at Rio Tinto Stadium for the 5A state title contest, the result was a competitive final, and once again, Alta (19-1-1) got the better of the Bengals (12-4-3) in a state final, this time by a 2-1 count.
It was a fitting ending to an outstanding boys soccer season, and the team that was most consistently good from beginning to end came out on top. However, it almost didn’t happen.
The Hawks were locked in a hard fought scoreless semifinal battle with Lehi, and were in danger of falling short of even a trip to Rio Tinto. Colemere, however, was having none of it, and he banged home a game-winning goal in overtime.
That allowed the senior striker the chance to find the back of the net two more times this season, as he was the finisher on both Alta goals in the championship game. For Mitchell and his team, it is now six state championships, matching the Bengals’ total, and thus, the rivalry gets even a little better.
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