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West Valley City Journal

Wolverines fall just short of soccer finals

Jun 06, 2024 10:40AM ● By Greg James

The Wolverines defeated Alta 1-0 in the quarterfinals of the 5A state tournament. (Photo courtesy of Hunter soccer)

Hunter High School’s boys soccer team had a record-setting season. Including a trip to the state semifinals. 

“We had a great season,” Wolverines head coach Brett Solberg said. “Online records only go back so far, but I believe this is the best season in Hunter’s history.”

Its semifinal matchup against Wasatch, the No. 1 ranked team in the Utah 5A soccer classification, proved to be difficult. Hunter and Wasatch had taken different routes to the game. Wasatch had cruised through an undefeated season and scored nine goals in two games of the state tournament. Hunter scratched and clawed its way to a 14-2 season; a strong defense helped them be successful.

In its semifinal appearance, Hunter jumped out front first. Jeffery Aguilar Perez scored in the eighth minute of the contest. Hunter successfully held off the powerful No. 1 seed. Wasatch attacked relentlessly throughout the first half and the second.

Hunter goaltender Ariel Martinez deflected shot after shot and the defense cleared the ball from the backfield over and over. Wasatch finally capitalized on an opportunity with about 12 minutes left in the game. 

The contest ended in a 1-1 tie. After two scoreless overtimes, it was to be decided on penalty kicks.

“We had the lead most of the game, and we are the only ones this season to hold them to only one goal. I feel good about that,” Solberg said.

Wasatch defeated the Wolverines 4-2 in penalty kicks and the Wasps returned to the finals for the fourth time in three years.

“Give it to Hunter,” Wasatch head coach Lance Cosper said after the match. “What a good team, they had a good game plan. It was a great game by Hunter.”

The Wolverines started the season with four straight wins, after a loss to Kearns and another to Ridgeline they strung together eight straight wins to finish the regular season 12-2.

“Our resilience stands out to me. We played the semifinals without our two starting centerbacks. We had others step up and play very well,” Solberg said.

As a junior Aguilar Perez led the team with eight goals this season. Senior Cooper Hatch had four. No goal was bigger this year than the one sophomore Kallin Banks provided in the final half against Alta. His goal came on a penalty kick when Nick Vargas was fouled in the goalie box. 

The Wolverine’s advancement to the semifinals marks its best performance. Since the UHSAA has started the RPI seeding for its tournament, they had not advanced past the second round. In 2019, they lost to Pleasant Grove in the first round of the tournament. This season marks the third straight year Hunter has won a game in the state tournament.

In its 16 games, they only allowed 12 goals and had eight shutouts. Martinez had 14 shutouts in his career at Hunter. λ