SANDY — The Region 4 title is still up for grabs, and the happiest team on Thursday might've been Lone Peak.
In another entertaining game in the storied history of the Alta-Brighton soccer rivalry, the teams were forced to share the points after finishing level at 1-1.
"We're never happy with a draw, but it's always a tough game, it's a fun game. Our kids played hard, I thought they played hard. Great game," said Brighton coach Russ Boyer. "Do we walk away happy with a draw? No, I don't think either team does."
The visiting Bengals had to feel a little better about the draw considering they trailed most of the match until Mathew Coffey equalized in the 70th minute on a set piece.
With the draw, Brighton sits atop the league standings with 16 points at the midway point of league play, but it only leads Lone Peak (15) by one point while Alta sits in third with 13 points.
The region championship may ultimately come down to the rematch between these two teams at Rio Tinto Stadium on May 10.
You can bet Alta coach Lee Mitchell is looking forward to the opportunity.
"Brighton-Alta games are the most fun games of the year, you take what you can get," he said. "I thought it was a great game both ways. Hopefully fans had as good a time as I did."
Settling for the draw was a disappointing result for the Hawks after such a bright start. They had a shot cleared off the line in the second minute and then three minutes later grabbed the 1-0 lead as an unmarked Tally Wilsher headed home a wonderful cross from defender James Carrigan following his overlapping run up the left flank.
It wasn't until the second half that Brighton finally settled down.
"Alta came out in that first half and they were playing hard, they were playing physical and unfortunately it took us a half to adjust," said Boyer. "They had a lot of pressure in that first half, a lot of great runs, and we had to adjust to that, to Alta's credit."
Chances were tough to come by for both teams in the second half until the game started to open up in the final 15 minutes. Brighton eventually found the equalizer in the 70th minute.
On a designed free kick from about 25 yards out, instead putting a shot on goal Brighton's Taylor Frankhauser gently chipped it over the wall into space on the right side of the penalty area. Coffey tracked it down, took a touch around a defender and buried the goal.9 comments on this story
"It was just a good ball on the free kick," said Coffey. "We sold that far post run, and our free kick was on."
Brighton was the fresher team in overtime because of its substitution patterns, but Alta 'keeper Chris Lowrimore came up with some key saves to preserve the draw.
Alta owns a slight advantage in the series dating back to 2006 with a 5-4-3 record. Prior to that the Bengals had won eight straight in a span of four years.
"The history says it's been a great rivalry, and there have been great matches ... I don't expect it changing at all anytime soon," said Boyer.