SANDY — Logan came into Friday’s 3A semifinal game against Desert Hills having won seven of its last eight games, including four shutouts. While the Grizzlies didn’t get another clean sheet, the defense stifled the Thunder offense en route to a 4-1 victory at Jordan High School.
“I’m super proud of the girls,” Logan coach Sven Rasmussen said. “We were dead last in region last year and to be at this point is pretty remarkable.”
After knocking off the top seeded Thunder, Rasmussen quickly gathered his team together and shouted, “We’re going to Rio,” as players danced and hugged one another in celebration.
With the win, the Grizzlies advance to Saturday’s 3A title game at Rio Tinto Stadium – home of Real Salt Lake – against Cedar, who beat Snow Canyon 1-0, and just so happens to be the defending champs.
“I’m pretty familiar with the teams from down south and can’t wait to see what we can do,” Rasmussen added.
After finishing in second place in Region 11 after a loss at Juan Diego, Rasmussen acknowledged that hunger and drive has helped them throughout the playoffs.
“We felt we got shortchanged against Juan Diego and that really lit a fire under our team heading into the playoffs and the girls are just playing phenomenal,” Rasmussen added.
That certainly was evident from start to finish Friday night as the Grizzlies played a near flawless game with crisp passes, great runs while controlling possession for much of the game.
Just minutes into the match, the Grizzlies had two quick chances to get on the board. Veronica Sullivan had a one-on-one chance with Desert Hills keeper Brittney Moore, but couldn’t get the ball in the back of net just 10-yards out. Not even a minute later, forward Kaycee Larsen then blasted a shot towards the upper corner, but even that couldn’t get passed Moore.
But after several attempts, Sullivan finally came through.
In the 15th minute, Sullivan charged the net, after taking a pass from Zoe Clark, smashed it home to put Logan up 1-0.
Desert Hills’ Madi Hansen almost got the Thunder on the board with a terrific cross off a free kick in the 25th minute. Then in the 26th minute, her corner kick landed right in the box, but the Thunder couldn’t take advantage.
Then right before the half, Sullivan added another goal as midfielder Demi Lopez (Utah commit) drove a low cross in where Sullivan finished it off to put the Grizzlies up 2-0 at the half.
But Desert Hills didn’t quit as Midfielder Makayla Lewis broke away in the 54th minute and was taken down in the box. The referee pointed to the spot and senior midfielder Kenzie Done stepped up and buried the penalty shot into the bottom right corner to cut the Thunder deficit to 2-1.
But that’s as close as Desert Hills would get as Logan added two goals in the 73rd and 79th minute to put the game away.
“It certainly wasn’t the outcome that we expected, but credit Logan for playing a great game. They came out swinging and really got us on our heels early,” Desert Hills coach Benji Nelson said. “We’re a young team, and with this being my first year, I’m confident that we will build off this and take this experience to better prepare ourselves for next year.”
Desert Hills will lose just two seniors (Kenzie Done and Madi Hansen), and will likely be a frontrunner to compete for the 3A title next year.
“We are certainly going to miss Kenzi and Madi,” Nelson added. “They are both terrific players and great leaders who helped us achieve our first goal of the season (winning region) and we did that. It’s going to be tough to fill their spots, but we wish them well and look forward to preparing for next season.”
Follow Justin Giles on Twitter @Justingiles22.