Brighton is a great team, and they were executing their set plays. I got on (Alta) at half. I told them to get back to their game, and we started going after the ball more in the second half. —Alta coach Lee Mitchell
SANDY — When Alta and Brighton face off in a girls soccer match, expectations skyrocket.
The Thursday afternoon showdown between the 5A powerhouses was no different. The Hawks ultimately rallied to earn a narrow 3-2 victory, but it wasn't without a little controversy.
With a tie score and three minutes left on the clock, Brighton took advantage of confusion in front of the goal and Nadia Gomes slipped in what looked like the go-ahead score.
However, as the Bengals celebrated, the officials met and agreed a foul had been committed when both teams had converged to the net. A Brighton player had pulled her Alta counterpart to the ground, preventing her from defending the shot that went in. The result was no goal, and the score remained tied at two goals apiece with only stoppage time left.
"We weren't sure what was going on," said Alta coach Lee Mitchell when asked about the series of events. He wasn't given the full explanation until after the game.
The center official told Mitchell he saw the foul and, once there was a stoppage in play, went to the line judge to confirm. They had both seen the same incident so the reversal was an easy call to make.
"I just asked the ref about it, and he said they saw a foul, so that's what we'll go with. We've had that go against us at times, too."
Moments later, Alta's Madie Lyons was heading the other direction and found herself alone with an open goal in front of her. She scored the goal from deep on the right wing, giving the Hawks the lead and the win.
"I was thinking, 'go Madie, go,' " Mitchell said of the final score. "She is a smart player; I knew she was going to take care of us and get the job done."
The win lifted the defending champion Hawks to a perfect 6-0-0 record on the current season and increased their win streak to 23 consecutive games dating back to last August.
Alta has also now beat Brighton the last three times they have met, but it didn't look like they would in the first half of Thursday's game. The Bengals controlled much of the possession during the first 40 minutes, and Gomes gave them an early lead with a goal in the 16th minute.
"Brighton is a great team, and they were executing their set plays," Mitchell said. "I got on (Alta) at half. I told them to get back to their game, and we started going after the ball more in the second half."
The halftime speech resulted in the Hawks outshooting Brighton 12-3 on the game.
Brighton's Stephanie Ringwood tied the score at 2-2 in the 68th minute, setting up the late-game controversy and another highly anticipated Region 3 showdown in late September.
"Alta vs. Brighton. All that needs to be said is Alta vs. Brighton," Mitchell said of the competition between the two schools. "Since Utah and BYU aren't playing anymore, we can step in and be the state's biggest rivalry."