Not satisfied with one milestone, the Rocky Mountain High boys soccer team added another Friday.
The Grizzlies rallied to knock off Lake City 3-1 at Eagle High, clinching their first 5A state championship appearance in school history one day after notching their first state tournament victory.
Standing in the way of Rocky Mountain (14-3-2) and its Cinderella run is Timberline (18-1-0), the defending state, SIC regular-season and district tournament champion. The Wolves edged Centennial 2-1 in their semifinal.
The two square off for the third time this year at 7 p.m. Saturday at Rocky Mountain High — a predetermined site before the tournament started.
Timberline topped Rocky Mountain 1-0 in the regular season and 5-1 in the district semifinals.
“Timberline took us to the woodshed in district, absolutely cliniced us in the second half,” Rocky Mountain coach Skyler Bell said. “So we’d love another shot at them. … We’re the underdog, but we like that role.”
ROCKY MOUNTAIN 3, LAKE CITY 1
Playing in its second state tournament since opening in 2008, Rocky Mountain looked like merely a speed bump for Lake City (13-2-1) in the opening 15 minutes. The Timberwolves sent two shots inches outside the post and one millimeters over the crossbar before Travis Swallow fired in a penalty kick in the 14th minute.
“We were just panicking at first,” Rocky Mountain junior midfielder Hamish Lamberton said. “We didn’t know what we were up against. Once we adapted to how they played, we definitely changed our style to match it, and even did better than them.”
Lake City opted to have its defenders guard the Grizzlies in a man-to-man defense instead of a zone, the first time Rocky Mountain has faced that defense this year, Bell said. Once his team adjusted and starting pulling defenders all over the field, Rocky Mountain scored three unanswered goals.
Sophomore Alex Singleton got it started when he slotted the equalizer during a scramble in front of goal in the 34th minute. Nino Alibegic drew a penalty kick in the 63rd minute, and Jonah Dalmas buried it into the left side netting for the game winner. Dalmas provided the assist on a breakaway to Lamberton, who put Lake City away with his 74th-minute goal.
“It’s just an amazing experience,” Dalmas said, “and I can’t wait for what we get to do (Saturday).”
TIMBERLINE 2, CENTENNIAL 1
Neither Alain Murhula nor Cole Fuller suited up for Timberline’s state championship run last fall. Murhula attended Borah, and Fuller missed state with a knee injury.
But the two donned Wolves uniforms Friday, and their goals lifted Timberline into the championship as they seek to become the third team to repeat as 5A champions since the Idaho High School Activities Association started sponsoring the tournament in 2000.
Murhula got the Wolves on the board when a blocked shot found its way over the Centennial defense and to his side of the field in the 32nd minute. He chased down the loose ball while Centennial goalkeeper Casey Sturtevant retreated to guard his net.
Murhula made him pay, roofing a shot into the back of the net for his third goal of the tournament.
Fuller added the second goal six minutes later when Zach Fishburn lofted a ball 30 yards through the air to find Fuller onside behind the defense. He fired a shot into the left side of the net for a 2-0 halftime lead.
“He always assists me on those,” Fuller said. “I told him like five minutes before that those balls were on all day.”
Centennial threatened a late comeback when Fitsum Berhe struck in the 73rd minute. But Timberline held on in the final minutes. avenging its only loss this season and setting up a possible sweep of championships — regular season, district and state — with a victory Saturday.
“It’s good to have some records and leave something at school,” Murhula said. “When you play for school and leave to go college, you can come back after some years and they’ll recognize you by the stuff you did.”
Michael Lycklama: 377-6424; Twitter: @MichaelLycklama