TAYLORSVILLE — Taylorsville's boys soccer team has a different approach this season.
The Warriors are playing to win.
They proved that change during the regular season by winning the Region 2 championship and earning a home game in the first round of the 5A state tournament.
They proved it again Tuesday afternoon, taking extra time to defeat Brighton, 1-0, in overtime.
"It was a nail-biter, definitely a nail-biter," said Taylorsville coach George Sirstins. "Our goal this year was to stop playing to lose — to play to win. That's the difference."
After 80 minutes of scoreless play, followed by three minutes of overtime play, Carlos Lopez drove by a defender and then shot past the Brighton goalkeeper for the golden goal.
"I just told them it was our game," Sirstins said of what he told his team heading into the overtime. "We worked this hard to get this home-field advantage prior to this. I never had expectations going in as the third seed."
Lopez's game-winner was the senior's sixth goal of the season and gave Taylorsville a victory that pushed the team into the quarterfinals for the first time since 2007.
"I'm teaching them to play to win, not just play not to lose," Sirstins said. "It's a whole different attitude this time."
The low-scoring, one-goal victory was not a surprise to the coach. It is the margin of victory the Warriors have earned in eight of their 12 total victories. With Kellar Sirstins in the net, Taylorsville has also recorded six shutouts, including the win over the Bengals.Comment on this story
"Our scores are low, but we dominate every game we play," the coach said. "I felt (against Brighton) we probably had more possession time than these guys. I'm teaching them, 'I don't need two goals to win. I need one.' That's how we're playing."
With the win, the Warriors set a date with the Fremont Silver Wolves, who defeated Pleasant Grove, 3-2, on Tuesday. Taylorsville will host Fremont on Friday at 4 p.m. — although Sirstins has not looked that far ahead yet.
"I take it one game at a time," he said. "I don't even know who I've got (next). But I truly think we can go all the 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.