Sandy • A few seconds in the 65th minute was all it took for Michele Murphy to make her move. And for those few seconds, she was the fastest sprinter in Utah.
She turned on a dime around her defender, dashed right to the outside of the goalbox, and struck at the last possible moment as another Viewmont player slid in front of her. The shot found its way past diving Vikings stalwart keeper Alex Cook's hands into the net.
"I ran as fast as I could," Murphy said. "I don't really remember what happened, except I saw the shot, and took it."
In her team's most critical moment, Murphy found a way to score her 38th goal of the season. And Alta, after a year away from the Class 5A championship, was once again a winner for the fifth time in six seasons with a 1-0 win over the Vikings on Friday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.
"How can you not be emotional after that game?" said misty-eyed coach Lee Mitchell, who won his eighth title with the girls at Alta. "How can you watch those girls work that hard the whole game and not feel emotional?"
It wasn't necessarily the Hawks' toughest game of the season: That honor might go to their only loss of year, a 3-2 overtime defeat at the hands of the Vikings. The Viewmont loss hung over them, changed them, Murphy said, and maybe for the better.
"It was kind of a blessing," she said. "We realized we didn't want that to happen again. It made us vow to win next time."
Pregame jitters seemed to get the best of the Hawks early on. Viewmont showed why it was ESPN's No. 23 soccer team in the nation, a spot above Alta. Pressure came from all angles as Ali Forsberg, Courtney Wallis and Lizzy Rasmussen attempted to take the lead for the Vikings.
Things were looking hairy for a Hawks defense that gave up only four goals all season and had a record 17 shutouts heading into the game. Defenders Taylor Campbell and Lindsey Butts had to clear balls that appeared inches away from crossing into goal.
"It was pretty crazy, and we just wanted it so bad, we had butterflies," Campbell said. "We just had to stay composed. Even after the goal, Viewmont could've easily come back."
The second half was a different narrative, as Alta possessed the ball better in the Vikings' side of the field. Murphy's game-winning shot was just one of the barrage that the Hawks sent Cook's way, and most of them resulted in highlight-reel saves from the senior keeper.
But one play is all it took for the Alta to reclaim its familiar spot at the top of the 5A heap. And with its prolific goal-scoring and historic defense, this is a team sure to be remembered.
"Every team I've had is different," Mitchell said. "This one had heart."
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R Alta wins its fifth championship in six years by topping Viewmont in a 1-0 game.
• Michele Murphy scores the game-winner, her 38th of the season.
• Alta shuts down Viewmont's high-scoring offense for its state-record 18th shutout.