WEST JORDAN — The Copper Hills Grizzlies and Herriman Mustangs met at Copper Hills High School Tuesday afternoon in what figured to be the first of two heavyweight, and region-defining, clashes between the schools this season.
After all, the Grizzlies entered the contest rated the second-best team in the state, while the Mustangs were merely considered one of the best-scoring teams in 6A. Both teams had already firmly established themselves at the top of Region 3, with Copper Hills having made short work of both Taylorsville and Riverton, and Herriman doing no less against West Jordan and Taylorsville.
All of which is to say that Tuesday’s matchup was highly anticipated.
Led by four different goal scorers, including senior Emma Lightfoot, the Mustangs prevailed against the Grizzlies, pulling out a thrilling 4-3 victory.
Lightfoot was joined in the scoring column by teammates Amelia Nielsen, Abbey Hymas and Maddie Frandsen, while Copper Hills’ benefited from a pair of goals from Sammy Rollins as well as a Katrina Estrada goal.
That is the story on paper at least.
In truth, the story of this contest was something else all together, and it began as early as eight years ago.
“Ever since we started this program, in 2010, it was our intent, win or lose, to play good-looking soccer,” said Herriman head coach Bill DeBruyn. “We want to play a good possession game, with great passing. Each year, we have gotten better and better, and I think this year, with the talent we have, we are finally getting to that pinnacle. Everything’s coming together.”
It certainly did on Tuesday. Aside from a few brief lapses, most notably two goals allowed in the final 10 minutes of the game, the Mustangs dominated play. Their possession-based attack, coupled with precision passing, stood in stark contrast to the physical and aggressive style of the Grizzlies.
From the outset, Herriman proved to be the better team. Through the first 20 minutes of the game, the Mustangs had taken five shots, compared to none attempted by the Grizzlies. By the end of the first half, Lightfoot had, by herself, outshot Cooper Hills five to four.
One of those shots briefly gave Herriman a goal…