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High school boys soccer: Murray, Ridgeline each get tight wins to earn championship trip

Murray High School celebrates their 3-2 victory over Layton Christian Academy to advance to the finals of the boys high school 4A soccer championship at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman on Tuesday, May 21, 2024.
Murray High School celebrates their 3-2 victory over Layton Christian Academy to advance to the finals of the boys high school 4A soccer championship at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. | Megan Nielsen, Deseret News

Here’s a recap of the 4A boys soccer state tournament semifinals on Tuesday at Zions Bank Stadium.

Murray and Ridgeline advanced to the final.

Murray 3, Layton Christian 2

The Murray Spartans ended their regular season with only two losses and took second place in Region 10. Both losses came at the hands of Layton Christian, who also took the Region 10 title from Murray.

The Spartans got their revenge in a 3-2 semifinal win over the Eagles and advanced to the championship game.

“We have backed off in a couple of games this year and it cost us,” Murray head coach Bryan Demann said. “Sometimes we backed off with a lead and I think we learned our lesson.”

The semifinal remained tied 0-0 throughout the first half, but Murray struck first with a goal from Dillon Curtis in the 52nd minute.

“We’ve been together since we were five, six years old,” Curtis said. “We’ve been playing for that long and it’s just awesome to come out here and move on.”

Murray kept the Eagles scoreless and started to gain momentum, but then Layton Christian had an offensive explosion.

Yan Simas scored first for Layton Christian in the 64th minute, and then, two minutes later, Matheus Alvarenga scored for a 1-2 lead.

Yet again it seemed Murray was losing steam against Layton Christian.

“We were discouraged at first, but these guys are winners,” said Demann. “They pulled together, kept hollering at each other and they weren’t going to let anybody stop and they got it there.”

With nine minutes remaining in the second half, the Spartans were fouled in the box. Murray’s Carlos Nieto-Rosales punched in the penalty kick for the 2-2 tie, forcing the game into overtime.

“We knew going into overtime after we came back to tie it up,” said Demann. “We knew we had an advantage going for us and we wanted to get it there quick.”

Murray took that to heart and within 30 seconds of overtime play Murray’s Abdul Shaher volleyed a ball over the Layton Christian goalie for the golden goal and the semifinal win.

“We deserved it. We’ve been working all season for this,” Shaher said. “Every single person worked for this, especially our JV players who supported us on the bench.

“I just want to give credit to my team. I wasn’t playing my best through the first 80 minutes. My team supported me through it, and I just had to finish the job.”

It was a confidence building win for Murray to not only qualify for the championship but to do so while beating the only team they lost to this year.

“We’ve been through this before. We lost to them twice,” Shaher said. “We quit in both of those games and this game we just played our hearts out and didn’t quit. They may have won those two games, but we won this one, and this is the one that counts.”

2001 was the only time Murray won a boys soccer championship. It will compete for a second on Thursday at America First Field.

“We’re going to be facing somebody who’s got the same thing going for them, so we know we have to do exactly what we’ve been doing,” said Demann “We’re going to work and we’re going to believe in each other.”

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Ridgeline’s Miguel Gustave celebrates after scoring a goal against Green Canyon in the semifinals of the boys high school 4A soccer championship at Zions Bank Field in Herriman on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. | Megan Nielsen, Deseret News
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From left, Layton Christian Academy’s Joao Pedro Stoll and Murray High School’s Jason Adams chase after the ball in the semifinals of the boys high school 4A soccer championship at Zions Bank Field in Herriman on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. | Megan Nielsen, Deseret News
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From left, Layton Christian Academy’s Yan Simas and Murray High School’s Kaden Coons jump up for the ball in the semifinals of the boys high school 4A soccer championship at Zions Bank Field in Herriman on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. | Megan Nielsen, Deseret News
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Green Canyon’s Gavin Crane attempts to block the ball off the head of Ridgeline’s Tate Hickman in the semifinals of the boys high school 4A soccer championship at Zions Bank Field in Herriman on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. | Megan Nielsen, Deseret News
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Murray High School players celebrate their 3-2 win over Layton Christian Academy in the semifinals of the boys high school 4A soccer championship at Zions Bank Field in Herriman on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Murray took the win with a golden goal during overtime shot by Abdul Shaher. | Megan Nielsen, Deseret News
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Murray High School plays Layton Christian Academy in the semifinals of the boys high school 4A soccer championship at Zions Bank Field in Herriman on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. | Megan Nielsen, Deseret News
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Murray High School plays Layton Christian Academy in the semifinals of the boys high school 4A soccer championship at Zions Bank Field in Herriman on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. | Megan Nielsen, Deseret News
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Murray High School plays Layton Christian Academy in the semifinals of the boys high school 4A soccer championship at Zions Bank Field in Herriman on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. | Megan Nielsen, Deseret News
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Murray High School plays Layton Christian Academy in the semifinals of the boys high school 4A soccer championship at Zions Bank Field in Herriman on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. | Megan Nielsen, Deseret News
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Murray High School plays Layton Christian Academy in the semifinals of the boys high school 4A soccer championship at Zions Bank Field in Herriman on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. | Megan Nielsen, Deseret News
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Layton Christian Academy celebrates a goal against Murray High School in the semifinals of the boys high school 4A soccer championship at Zions Bank Field in Herriman on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. | Megan Nielsen, Deseret News
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Murray High School plays Layton Christian Academy in the semifinals of the boys high school 4A soccer championship at Zions Bank Field in Herriman on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. | Megan Nielsen, Deseret News
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Ridgeline plays Green Canyon in the semifinals of the boys high school 4A soccer championship at Zions Bank Field in Herriman on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. | Megan Nielsen, Deseret News
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Layton Christian Academy players walk off the field as Murray High School celebrates their win in the background in the semifinals of the boys high school 4A soccer championship at Zions Bank Field in Herriman on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. | Megan Nielsen, Deseret News
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Ridgeline plays Green Canyon in the semifinals of the boys high school 4A soccer championship at Zions Bank Field in Herriman on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. | Megan Nielsen, Deseret News
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Ridgeline plays Green Canyon in the semifinals of the boys high school 4A soccer championship at Zions Bank Field in Herriman on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. | Megan Nielsen, Deseret News
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Ridgeline plays Green Canyon in the semifinals of the boys high school 4A soccer championship at Zions Bank Field in Herriman on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. | Megan Nielsen, Deseret News
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Ridgeline plays Green Canyon in the semifinals of the boys high school 4A soccer championship at Zions Bank Field in Herriman on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. | Megan Nielsen, Deseret News
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Ridgeline plays Green Canyon in the semifinals of the boys high school 4A soccer championship at Zions Bank Field in Herriman on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. | Megan Nielsen, Deseret News
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Ridgeline plays Green Canyon in the semifinals of the boys high school 4A soccer championship at Zions Bank Field in Herriman on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. | Megan Nielsen, Deseret News
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From left, Ridgeline’s Miguel Gustave celebrates with teammate Ivan Leon after Gustave’s goal against Green Canyon in the semifinals of the boys high school 4A soccer championship at Zions Bank Field in Herriman on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. | Megan Nielsen, Deseret News
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Ridgeline players celebrate a goal against Green Canyon in the semifinals of the boys high school 4A soccer championship at Zions Bank Field in Herriman on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. | Megan Nielsen, Deseret News

Ridgeline 3, Green Canyon 2

Giving up an equalizer goal with under five minutes left would break a lot of teams, but it didn’t break Ridgeline as it fought back to score a goal with 90 seconds left and took a 3-2 4A semifinal win over Green Canyon.

Region 11 foes Ridgeline and Green Canyon each got a win over the other this year. Ridgeline got the most recent win — a 4-0 victory on April 23.

The semifinal stayed tied through most of the first half, until Ridgeline’s Miguel Gustave redirected a ball in the 36th minute. The goal gave the RiverHawks a 1-0 halftime lead.

Green Canyon wasted no time getting a goal of their own. Cannon Clark scored on a penalty kick in the 44th minute.

However, Ridgeline quickly answered back. Denaeyer Dean curled one in from the corner for a 2-1 lead.

“The team really hypes me up when I score. It gets the energy going,” Dean said. “It was a good team win. We all came out knowing it was going to be a tough game, but we pushed, and we got there.”

With five minutes left the RiverHawks gave up a crucial goal to Green Canyon’s Colby Knight and it seemed like the game was destined for overtime.

Ridgeline’s Tate Hickman disagreed.

With 90 seconds left in the game, Diego Vazquez took a corner kick, which Ivan Leon first got a touch on, and Hickman got a second touch into the goal for the 3-2 lead and the win.

“Our team has that championship mindset,” said Ridgeline head coach Richard Alexander. “That mindset knowing that things aren’t always going to go how you want it, but it’s how you answer back. It’s how you respond to those hard times that separates you from a good to a great team and these guys have that.”

Hickman said practicing those moments was crucial in pulling out the win.

“In practice, we’ve simulated going down and not putting our heads down,” Hickman said. “We know we have it in us to win. It feels good. I knew we had it though. It was just a matter of when we were going to score.

“For us seniors it means the world to me. All we’ve wanted is a state ring and we’re going to go get it.”

Ridgeline will face Murray in the 4A state championship at America First Field on Thursday.

“It’s exciting you’ve got two teams that are going to battle until the end and that’s what you want,” Alexander said. “We’re excited and we’re ready to go.”