Snow Canyon limped into the 3A state playoffs, losers of two of the last three games, and watched as the prospects for an outright region title and No. 1 overall seed eroded.
On top of that, the Warriors were without their head coach on Wednesday in their first-round playoff game against Morgan.
But the Warriors put the last two weeks behind them, beating the Trojans 3-1 in a physical game at home on a muggy afternoon.
Megan Weston scored a goal and added an assist. Ashley Brindley and Brielle Hoskins scored the other two Snow Canyon goals.
“We were tired of losing and not playing well,” Weston said. “I think we all kind of came together as a team because we had some issues like yelling, putting blame on each other, but we all got together and worked things out and obviously it’s working.”
The Warriors passed well and attacked down the wings, as Morgan opted for a narrow formation of three forwards and three midfielders.
That left Weston, Arantxa Melendez and Ellie Christensen wide open very often. On the other hand, it made it difficult for leading scorer Heidi Smith to get any sort of space.
Weston was the first to take advantage of the outside space in the seventh minute. She stole the ball, ran down the right side and sent a low cross into the penalty box that went past Smith but found Brindley, who tucked a first-time shot into the corner.
Weston got on the score sheet toward the end of the first half. A Snow Canyon long throw took a couple of high bounces in the penalty box and even bounced over the Trojan keeper’s head, eventually falling to Weston who scored into an open goal.
“(Weston) played really well, I think she made really good runs and passes, the one she played to me was perfect,” Brindley said.
Morgan came back with a goal in the 68th minute to cut the deficit to 2-1. The game took on a nervous complexion the next 10 minutes as Snow Canyon tried to hold its own and the Trojans tried to break through.
Hoskins scored the third goal in the 78th minute from a corner kick that sealed the Warriors win and passage to a Saturday quarterfinal at Canyon View.
Warriors head coach Kenny Kunde was suspended for Wednesday’s game after it was determined that Snow Canyon played 17 varsity games this year, one more than the maximum amount allowed by UHSAA and Region 9 rules.
The game in question was, ironically, the Canyon View game in late August. Snow Canyon contended it was a JV game since the Warriors took their JV team to play against CV’s varsity team.
An apparent communication breakdown resulted in the game being deemed as a varsity game and thus a 17th game. The players thought it was odd to not have their head coach Wednesday, but were unfazed.
“It was kind of weird to not have him there for warmups cause he kind of gets us going, but I think that (Coach) Brough did a good job filling in for him and keeping the intensity up the whole game,” Brindley said.
Connect with reporter Patrick Carr on Twitter @PatrickCarr_ and on Facebook at Facebook.com/PatrickJosephCarr1/ or call him at (435) 231-3834.