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Herriman Journal

Herriman soccer wins state championship in major season-turnaround

Jun 30, 2022 09:35PM ● By Justin Adams

By Justin Adams | [email protected]

In the world of high school athletics, things usually go the way they’re supposed to go. It’s pretty common to see the top four seeds in the state tournament be the last remaining teams. Cinderella stories don’t come along too often. Which is what made Herriman High’s boys soccer team’s state championship run this year all the more special.

The Mustangs finished the regular season with a 5-8 record, and a 3-7 record in Region 3. At one point in the season, they lost seven games in a row.

Despite their record, head coach Marcello Gasperini still believed in their championship potential.

“They’re all super competitive players. From the day we had tryouts, we said ‘We are a championship team. We train like champions. We play like champions. We battle like champions.’ The hardest part during the season was figuring out how we could have a losing record and still be champions,” he said.

Based on the state’s RPI system, they were ranked as an 18-seed going into the state playoffs. The team was coming off two consecutive wins (which had snapped that seven-game losing streak) so they had a little bit of momentum. Add to that a “nothing to lose” underdog mentality and the team proved dangerous in the early rounds of the playoffs.

“Once playoffs came, our mentality was there. We were just hungry for some wins,” said junior forward Trevor Walk.

First the team knocked off Westlake, a 15-seed. Then the Cinderella run really got going in earnest in the second round, when the team beat the second seed, Corner Canyon. Tied 1-1 at the end of regulation, that game ended up going into a penalty kick shootout.

That became a theme for the Mustangs in the playoffs, as both of their next two games, against West and Farmington, also went into extra time.

So in the state championship game against Davis High, it felt like fate when the game’s final seconds started to tick down with the scoreboard still reading 0-0. The announcer at Rio Tinto Stadium began counting down the seconds, “Ten… nine… eight…”

“I think a lot of us were ready for overtime and starting to mentally prepare for it during that last minute,” Walk said.

But almost as if the game were a microcosm of their entire season, the Mustangs finished strong.

The ball bounced out of a mix of Herriman and Davis players to Walk, who found himself unmarked, and near enough to the goal to turn around and launch a last-ditch attempt at a game-winning shot, which sailed into the back of the net with two seconds left.

So what led to the team’s incredible turnaround?

“I think the team morale changed. We started bonding a lot more. We started having a lot more fun, not worrying about our record,” Walk said.

Gasperini credited his players.

“The hardest part is getting them to continue to believe it. As the coach I know the players and see the talent. But losing seven in a row is brutal. It’s insanely hard as a player. But at the right times, the right players stepped up and carried the team.”

The state championship is the program’s first (after multiple trips to the finals in recent years) but Gasperini predicted they will be back soon.

“We have an incredible talent pool in Herriman. This is just the first one we got, but there’s more to come,” he said. 

 

 

 

 

 

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