Courtesy of Kaesi Johansen
COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — A slight moment of indecision by Brighton's keeper in the dying moments of Tuesday's 5A first round soccer game, and suddenly the No. 1 team in the state found itself in a very precarious position heading into overtime against underdog Layton.
Impressively though, the Bengals never lost their composure.
Three minutes into overtime, Brighton senior Skyler Milne made a darting run into the box and drilled a driven shot just inside the far post to lift the Bengals to a nerve-wracking 3-2 victory.
"I just kept running, that was the only thing I had on my mind when I realized where I was," said Milne. "It was great, unlike anything I've every felt before. Pure bliss."
With the victory, Brighton advances to Friday's quarterfinals where it will host Bingham — the team that handed the Bengals their only loss of the season.
"That's state tournament soccer," said relieved Brighton coach Russ Boyer afterward. "Sometimes it's about survive and advance, and we were lucky to do that today."
Leading 2-0 at the half, Brighton seemed to be well on its way to the shutout victory with the score unchanged midway through the second half. Layton coach Rick Talamentez, however, didn't see any quit in his players.
"We came into halftime just telling the kids not to give up. We're a very talented team and we have a lot of heart, and if they play to the best of their abilities and throw it all out there, they'll be successful whether they win or lose," said Talamentez.
Freshman Fito Ovalle helped Layton pull a goal back in the 61st minute with an impressive dribbling run and finish to cut the lead to 2-1.
Brighton had several chances to double its advantage, and it would bemoan that reality in a shocking turn of events in the 80th minute.
Following a booming clearance from Layton's backline, Layton striker Yeong Lee gave chase but it looked like Brighton's charging keeper would get there first just outside the box. Hoping to corral the ball with his hands inside the box though, the keeper tried to backtrack but incredibly he stumbled. Lee was right there to tap it around the keeper and bury the empty netter to level the score at 2-2.
"We made a couple mistakes, but the whole team had each others back. We had our keeper's back," said Milne.
Despite the momentum shift, Brighton's coach was confident heading into overtime.
"I think a lot of that is mental, and I think it showed some mental toughness on our part today," said Boyer. "We felt comfortable that we were getting good opportunities and if we kept doing that we'd finish one, and we did."
Brighton opened the scoring in the 27th minute with a cool finish in the box from Tanner Hale. Matthew increased the lead to 2-0 with his team-leading 11th goal shortly before halftime.
Despite what the scoreboard, the first half was fairly even with both teams generating several quality chances.
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