From the start of the game, it was apparent that this game would be a grind-it-out type of match with a lot of fouls and players spending a good chunk of time on the ground.
In the first half, both teams fought back and forth, with Bountiful carrying a slight edge in winning challenges. The tension in the stadium suggested that whichever team scored first would probably go on to win the game. And that's exactly what happened.
With about nine-and-a-half minutes before halftime, Mike Alexander got the ball on the outside wing and used his darting speed to get ahead of the defense. He zipped a shot to the bottom left corner of the goal, which appeared as if it would be saved, and partially was for a moment.
Then somehow the ball sneaked through the Bonneville keeper's hands for the score.
"That shot was a little out of the blue," said Alexander, who was named the tournament's MVP. "The goalie wasn't ready for it. We've been working on that in practice all the time and it finally worked out."
The Braves were able to keep the Lakers off the scoreboard for the rest of the half and took a 1-0 lead into the break.
The second half brought a jump in intensity and both teams got more frustrated with each other as the match wore on. The officials' control of the game seemed to slip and bickering between coaches, players and refs became a near constant occurrence.
With just over 20 minutes left in the game, the Lakers were able to get free of the pestering Bountiful defense and send a shot to the back of the net. However, to Bonneville's complete surprise, and the Braves too, for that matter, the official called the Lakers off-sides and the shot was never recognized as a goal.
Less than seven minutes later, Bonneville had perhaps their best opportunity of the night to score when a near-certain goal was stopped by Bountiful goal-keeper, Brian Simmons.
"They crossed it, they shot it, and I just blocked it," an emotional Simmons said. "At about 10 minutes (left in the game), it just became surreal for me. I wasn't sure what to do. And I still don't know what to do. This is incomparable. You hear people say, you don't know what it's like until you do itÖand it's so true."
"He's the best keeper that I've ever dealt with," said Cam Winquist, assistant coach for the Braves. "He's top notch, and he's going to be back next year, so we're ecstatic."
That save may have won the game for the Braves. But just to eliminate all doubt, Alexander elevated to receive a corner kick and knocked a header shot through the goal for his second score of the night. The shot was a dagger for Bonneville and officially started the party for the Braves.
"It's a dream come true," Alexander said. "Your whole life, when you're playing in your backyard, you talk about scoring a goal in the state championship. I got lucky, and scored two."
Assistant coach Paul Campbell said the key to the victory was simply "survival."
"To Bonneville's credit, they knocked us off our gameÖwe had a real hard time possessing, they pressured and pressured," Campbell said. "It was just a battle, it was more of a survival than a soccer game."
The Braves ability to fight through adversity and keep focused on the game ultimately proved to be too much for the Lakers.
"They deserve it," Campbell said. "They've worked hard all year, they were very coachable, they did what we asked, they did everything that we wanted them to do."
"There is not one kid that we put in todayÖthat we felt nervous about putting out there," said Winquist. "They are all just incredible players. I'm glad these guys did it."
This was Bountiful's second state title in the past five years, with their last one coming in 2002. The Braves finished in second place last year.