Story and photos by Kurt Johnson
OREM – A year ago, the Alta High girls soccer team had its season ended earlier than it had hoped. With championship aspirations, the Hawks exited in the quarterfinal round of the state tournament.
This year’s Alta team may be flying a little under the radar coming in, but it has the talent to be in the mix again, particularly when you look up top. Senior forward Sadie Mertlich and her sophomore running mate, Brecken Mozingo, are fast, explosive and strong on the ball.
Those skills were on display Tuesday when the Hawks opened Region 7 play on the road at Orem. After the teams played even for the first 10 minutes, Alta seized control of the midfield and effectively used that speed and aggressiveness on its front line to dominate on the way to a 7-0 victory.
The score could have been even more one-sided but for the play of Tiger goalkeeper Amelia Harper, who turned aside chance after chance as the Hawks spent way too much time in front the frame. The first Alta goal came after Mertlich launched a free kick from a sideline angle about 30 yards out.
Harper elevated and got a hand on the ball, pushing it up so that it caromed off the crossbar. It rebounded into the field, however, and senior midfielder Lizzy Porter was there to finish it off, putting the Hawks on top in the 14th minute.
Alta added another tally in the 25th minute, finding the net on the end of a Rachel Richards corner kick. After Harper got a hand on the cross, the ball found its way to the ground about five yards out from the goal, where sophomore defender Rachel Twede was essentially sitting on the turf. From that position she managed to get her foot on the ball and push it into the back of the net.
Two pretty combinations just before intermission allowed the Hawks to double their advantage to 4-0. The first goal came on a great through-ball as Mozingo slipped a pass between defenders to Mertlich, who beat the keeper before finishing into an empty net. Then, Mozingo got behind the Orem back line to receive a long throw-in from Kat Adlard and as the ball arrived, the sophomore striker volleyed it out of the air and chipped it over Harper into the goal.
Mozingo picked up her second goal of the contest six minutes into the second half, taking the ball from a Tiger defender deep in the Orem defensive end, then chipping a shot over the goalie and into the net. Two minutes later, Porter tallied her second goal of the day with a long-range strike that ricocheted off the bottom side of the crossbar and landed behind the goal line to make it 6-0.
That score held until the very end of the second half, when junior Taylor Campbell added a seventh score for Alta that set the final margin.
Hawk net minder Sam Myers was barely tested during the match, as Alta won nearly everything in the midfield. When Orem did manage to work the ball through the midfield into the Alta end, a strong Alta defense anchored by Lauren Webb and Addie Groves were there to meet the challenge and once the Hawks pushed the ball forward, that speed just kept creating chances at the other end.
Orem (0-1 in Region 7, 0-2-1 overall) will try to get things going Thursday when they visit Corner Canyon (0-1, 2-1). The Chargers were shut out by Timpview in their league opener Tuesday. Alta (0-1, 1-1) hosts Timpanogos (1-0, 1-2) Thursday.