SANDY — On May 8, 2018, Weber High boys soccer goalkeeper Charles Wheelwright laid on the turf at Layton High School while a group of Lancers' boys soccer players celebrated around him.

They were celebrating because a Layton player named Davis Keurth scored just his second goal of the season in a game that ultimately swung the 2018 Region 1 title race into Layton's favor.

"I dropped the ball, and they scored, and we lost 1-0," Wheelwright said.

All Weber needed to do that day was beat Layton and the title would go to the Warriors. Even a draw would've kept Weber as the title favorites. Instead, it was entirely different.

Wheelwright didn't forget and used it to his benefit. 

"That stuck with me for this entire year and it's just been a driving force for me. It feels good to finally be on top," he said. "I just came with a different mentality, with a killer mentality of, 'I'm going to win every ball, I'm going to catch every ball.'"

On Thursday under the bright lights of Rio Tinto Stadium in the 6A boys soccer championship game, the hard work and the training since then all paid off.

As Copper Hills laid siege to the Warriors' goal while Weber held on to a late 1-0 lead, Wheelwright saved a point-blank shot in the closing minutes after parrying away several others throughout the night.

The Warriors won their second boys' soccer state title in school history — their first since 2004 — with a 1-0 win over the Grizzlies on a Kolton Obray goal, completing an inspired playoff run that saw them deal with injuries and score wins against the champions of Regions 2, 3 and 4. 

Wheelwright was serenaded after the game with chants of "Charlie! Charlie! Charlie!" from both the players — who sprinted to the goal, tackled him at the final whistle and adorned him with a red-and-black scarf in the trophy celebration — and the fans.

"Nobody believed we could do it. We believed we could, we especially believed our boys could. And they did," Warriors head coach Jan Swift said with a smile.

The Warriors were dealt a considerably tough hand coming into Thursday. After knowing they wouldn't have Ben Pobanz —who scored the first goal of Tuesday's semifinal win — starter Breyden Boydston went off after around 10 minutes.

Boydston injured left his leg Tuesday against Pleasant Grove, then went in for an MRI on Wednesday only to find out he had fractured it about three weeks ago. He played through a ton of pain early against Copper Hills, then went off and spent the rest of the game wearing a boot on his left leg.

In came junior Dasen Barnes and sophomore Noah Perkins.

"We figured somebody's got to step up and help us and they did. We put some players out that hadn't had starting times and they performed great," Swift said.

The first goal of the state title game was, ironically, nearly scored on a goalkeeper error.

Weber's Josh Maughan hit a shot that bounced into the Grizzlies' keeper's hands, and then it went through his legs and nearly rolled over the goal line — but it didn't have enough steam left to get over the line.

In the 50th minute, Wheelwright was alert to push away a long-range Copper Hills free kick that somehow slipped past 12 players and headed right for the top corner.

The Warriors found the breakthrough in the 55th minute.

Weber's Luke Johnson hit a perfectly placed cross that found the perfectly positioned head of Obray, who powered a header in from 6 yards out for the opening goal.

"That's his first goal this season," Swift said.

After the goal, Copper Hills' intensity ramped up as the Grizzlies searched for their first boys soccer state title in school history.

In the 66th minute, Wheelwright watched a Copper Hills shot go off the crossbar before Weber's defense cleared away successive Grizzly corners in the 68th minute.

"I've always wanted to play in the state championship game in Rio Tinto ever since I was little so, I mean, it's a dream come true. It's so surreal," Wheelwright said.

The Warriors finally relieved the Copper Hills pressure when Hunter Spencer's one-on-one shot was blocked out for a corner kick, keeping the ball far away from Wheelwright's goal as precious time washed away.

Then came the big save. It's one of those moments where one expects the striker — in this case, the Copper Hills player was wide-open around 8 yards out — to score 99% of the time.

In the words of the legendary hockey commentator Mike "Doc" Emrick: it would not go.

"Pure reaction, those are the things we train for every day for those moments when it becomes natural. Credit to my coaches for pushing me in practice and helping me prepare for these moments," Wheelwright said.

The score remained unchanged: Weber 1, Copper Hills 0.

Those bad memories that stuck with Wheelwright and fueled him are no longer.

When the final whistle blew, the Warriors rushed the field and went home with different, very good memories.

You can reach prep sports reporter Patrick Carr via email at pcarr@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter @patrickcarr_ and on Facebook at facebook.com/patrickcarr17/.

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