by Josh McFadden
Third place in region to runners-up at state—the Viewmont boys soccer team showed it plays its best ball when it matters most. The Vikings made an impressive run through the tournament, advancing all the way to the state title game on May 24 before falling to defending champion Alta 2-1 in overtime.
Alta led 1-0 at the half, but Viewmont’s leading scorer, Preston Pitt, delivered his 12th goal of the season with less than 15 minutes to go in the second half. That goal essentially sent the game into sudden-death overtime. A scoreless session would mean the contest would go into another overtime period and eventually overtime if no one still managed to score.
Too bad for Viewmont, Alta found the back of the net in the latter stages of the first and only overtime. It was an unfortunate way to end the game for the Vikings, which played solidly most of the game behind the play of senior goalkeeper Isaac Roy and other defenders.
“I thought we played really well for most of the game,” head coach Spencer Keddington said. “I think after the first 10 minutes or so, we settled in and played how we like to play. The second half, we played very well and got our goal. We had chances to get another, but it just didn’t happen. Sometimes that’s just how soccer goes.”
Keddington said it was difficult for his players to handle the loss. Still, he was pleased with his team’s effort and how well his players battled.
“It’s always tough to lose, but I told those kids that I was proud of the way they played and that they had,” he said. “There’s nothing to hang their heads about.”
Viewmont was searching for its second state title in the last three years. In 2016, the team had a similar up-and-down regular season, only to turn up its play in the postseason to capture the 5A crown. This season, the Vikings narrowly avoided the fourth and final seed in Region 5 but reeled off three straight playoff victories.
“Our goal every year is to make the playoffs and to be playing our best soccer at that time,” Keddington said. “We knew we were capable of making a run, but to say we expected it may be an overstatement. We expect to play hard and not stop until the final whistle. Most of the time when you do that good things will happen. We were able to make a run because they came together and believed in each other. We don’t really have to say anything to motivate these kids in the playoffs.”
In the semifinals, played at Woods Cross High School on May 24, Viewmont faced a formidable foe: Region 7 champion Brighton, which had actually beaten out Alta for that league’s top spot. The Bengals entered the semifinal match with just one loss all season, and that hadn’t come since way back on March 20. It didn’t same to faze the Vikings, which held Brighton without points for just the second time all year.
Viewmont blanked Brighton 1-0, thanks to a second-half goal from Pitt and a rock-solid performance from Roy, who had his third shutout of the season. For the Vikings, it was their sixth game in a row without a loss.
Good things could be in store for Viewmont next season. Keddington replaces just five seniors and brings back a host of underclassmen who gained valuable experience. Pitt is one of those departing seniors, but Josh Beckman and James Ackley each netted four goals and will return for their final seasons in 2019. The Vikings also had 10 sophomores and seven freshmen on this year’s squad.
“Our expectations for next season are to make the playoffs and try to make a run again,” Keddington said. “There are a lot of things that have to happen in order for something like this to have happened.”