COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — If effort was the only factor that determined a winner, then Copper Hills could have walked away victorious from its matchup Tuesday with Brighton.
After all, the Grizzlies played really hard. Unfortunately for them, scoring goals determines the winner and Brighton beat them in that crucial department, 3-0.
Seth Fankhauser and Blake Homer both scored first-half goals and Zach Bernardo added another in the second half to keep the Bengals undefeated.
To their credit, the Grizzlies were not intimidated by the top-ranked Bengals. They came out with high energy and pressured the Bengals — unlike most teams that sit back waiting to counter. Effort and energy quickly turned to frustration and disappointment, however, as the Bengals dominated possession throughout the first half leading to numerous scoring opportunities and two goals.
The scoring started in the 16th minute when Fankhauser found himself wide open in the box and calmly put the ball in the back of the net. The ball nearly went in seconds earlier but somehow stopped short of the line, which led to a scrum and the eventual goal.
“Somehow the ball popped out near the penalty spot and none of their defenders went to it, so I turned and shot it,” said Brighton’s Fankhauser, recalling the play that led to his goal.
Brighton’s second goal came in the 32nd minute off a set piece that was the result of a frustration foul committed by Copper Hills. Brighton quickly played the ball from midfield, putting it in a dangerous position where Warren Cook crossed it to a wide-open Homer, who headed it past the Copper Hills 'keeper.
The first 15 minutes of the second half were a mirror image of the first half as Brighton controlled the midfield and methodically pushed forward into dangerous positions. Copper Hills continued to press but, like the first half, became frustrated. Frustration turned to fouls and eventually another goal for Brighton.
In the 57th minute Brighton took advantage of a free kick set up by a Copper Hills foul. Matt Coffey crossed the ball to an open Bernardo near the top of the box. Bernardo took no time placing it in the back of the net.
Copper Hills played much better the last 15 minutes, but the game was already well in hand for Brighton. The Grizzlies' best scoring opportunity came in stoppage time but was thwarted by Brighton 'keeper Braedon Hickey, who had entered the game only a few minutes before the strike.
The result puts Copper Hills in a familiar position — third — in Region 3 looking up at Brighton and Alta with one more shot at each of them. Friday, the Grizzlies head to Cottonwood.
Brighton looks to continue its win streak at Jordan on Friday before a monster matchup against archrival Alta at home next week.
Brett Rosen is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and health/fitness specialist for Integrated Sports Performance, a sport performance training company in Sandy, Utah. EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org