DRAPER — Nadia Gomes is the spark that makes the Brighton girls soccer team go.
The senior forward created a highlight reel in the semifinal match against Fremont Tuesday evening, scoring a hat trick and assisting another goal in a late 12-minute span to lead the Bengals to the decided 5-0 victory.
“It was a tale of two halves,” said Brighton coach Mark Stoker. “We have really worked our conditioning and our fitness all season long for such a case, and we try to finish strong always.”
Neither team created a real threat to score throughout the entire first half; however, it looked as if the Silver Wolves were in control of the tempo. Just one minute into the second half, Fremont senior Mariah Elmer began to put goalkeeper Tamaryn Braun and the Bengal defense on alert. Elmer drove the first possession down field and hit a shot off the cross bar, and then followed it with two attempts that soared wide of the left post and another that flew over the cross bar.
At the 52nd minute, Gomes took over.
She scored her first goal of the game off an assist from junior Libby Dearden. Exactly one minute later, she broke through two defenders for an unassisted shot on an open goal.
“Someone kicked the through ball and I just ran and poked it into the goal,” Gomes said of her first score. “When I scored the first goal, I got pumped up and I wanted to score more.”
Gomes dished a pass to senior Sydney Meyers, who spun and shot for a goal in the 63rd minute, and then knocked in her final score with a shot to the opposite post in the 64th minute.
“Nadia is unbelievable,” Stoker said of his leading scorer, who has totaled 12 goals so far. “She is absolutely a fantastic player. She sparks everything on the offense. She’s our finisher. It takes 11 players to get the ball up and everything created, and she finishes for us.”
The final goal was scored from 30 yards out by senior Jayde Jones on an assist from senior Kami Djahanbani.
“We brought everything we had in the second half,” Stoker said. “That’s 40 minutes to play for your career. The girls stepped up and played the game they know how to play. They were aggressive and physical, and came out in the second half and played great.”
After falling to Davis, 3-2, in the quarterfinals a year ago, the Bengals are happy to get back to the title game for the first time since defeating Viewmont, 1-0, in double overtime for the 2010 championship.
“It’s just about how the ball bounces,” Stoker said looking forward to the Friday evening final. “And hopefully it will bounce our way.”
Sarah Thomas earned a degree in Mathematics from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing an MBA at Westminster College. She has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008.