Tom Smart, Deseret Morning News
Brighton High keeper McKinzie Olson, left, tries to hit the ball past Alta High's Stephanie Devisser as teammates Whitley Davis (25) and Myriah Stockman wait to clear the ball out of the box.

That all-too-familiar coin flip can sometimes bring a gloomier result than merely who gets the ball first.

The Brighton soccer team counts their season, at 16-2, a resounding success, but for a coin flip that put them in a much tougher bracket, it might have been better.

The Bengals delivered the only loss to eventual state champion Alta, but a coin flip relegated them as the second-place team in the region thereby sending them to play a tough Lone Peak team where a penalty kick in the last two minutes sent Brighton to defeat.

In some ways this season was better than Brighton's state champion team of two years ago. The overall record was better and coach Amber Johnson said, "We did things we hadn't done in a long time."

Johnson has built the Bengal program for the past six years, five as head coach and one as an assistant. And before the state championship of 2005, the last time that Brighton won state was 1997 when Johnson was a player there.

This year the Bengals fielded nine senior starters who were poised to win it all. Of course, this isn't the first time those senior dreams have been shattered. Besides, the win over Alta was the only game the Hawks appeared to even be challenged, so what might have been will never be known. But those nine starters have each garnered college scholarships to play the game that they love. And the leading scorer on the team was junior Jessica Ringwood, who recently committed to play for BYU after her senior season.

Goalkeeper McKinzie Olson is also headed for BYU. Myriah Stockman, an outstanding defender, will take her wares to Pepperdine. And Jaime Nelson has accepted an offer from San Diego State.

Rachel Ulanch, a stellar defender, will be the only returnee with experience besides Ringwood.

"We worked hard and we deserved to take state," said Ringwood, "but the ball just didn't bounce our way."

The ball bounced her way plenty of times, though, as she accounted for 15 goals during the season.

"I set my mind on the goal," she explained, adding "Next year I will work my hardest and play my best and go for state."

Next year's Bengal team will be very young but Johnson hopes to count on good young players who have a lot of club experience. As for competing for a state championship, no one knows, but she did say, "We will definitely be competitive next year."

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