BOUNTIFUL No one needed to tell Bountiful how dangerous of an opponent Orem could be in the first round. The Braves learned that lesson in 2005 when the Tigers sent them home early from the playoffs.
Then again, the Bountiful squad that the Tigers took down three years ago was not the defending 4A boys soccer champion either.
The Braves shook off some early jitters and took control with a pair of late first-half goals to cruise to an easy 3-1 victory in the opening round of the 4A boys soccer tournament on Wednesday.
Senior defender Jim Allred got Bountiful on the board in the 32nd minute when he got his head under a throw-in from Jaime Rigby and popped the ball into the net.
The Braves went up 2-0 on Matt Aldave's goal in the 39th minute. Rigby came through with the assist again, driving down the near sideline and crossing to Aldave directly in front of the net.
Even with a two-goal cushion, Bountiful knew the Tigers were down, but not out.
"2-0 is the most dangerous score you can have at halftime," Rigby said. "We just knew we needed to keep up the tempo and finish out the game strong."
Orem put itself back into the game quickly in the second half. The Tigers narrowed the lead to 2-1 on a free kick by McKay Corbett in the 45th minute. They nearly tied the game in the 57th minute when Darren Faber cashed in on a defensive mistake to set up an easy shot on goal.
Instead of clearing out the ball, goalkeeper Brian Simmons dumped it off to Allred in the back. Faber snagged the ball away from Allred, drove down and fired at the near post. Simmons alertly ran out and blocked away the ball with his body right at the post.
Joe Lake's unassisted goal from the far side of the box in the 62nd minute gave the Braves enough breathing room to withstand any further Orem comeback attempts.
Establishing a suitable tempo proved problematic for Bountiful until about halfway through the first half. The Braves had trouble connecting on passes and navigating up field in the face of intense defensive pressure from the Tigers.
Once Bountiful adjusted, taking control was only a matter of time.
"After 20 minutes, we settled in and decided we could play our style with these guys and we can settle down and relax a little bit while keeping the intensity level up," Braves coach Lou Plank said.
One reason starting slow did not adversely affect Bountiful is Orem could not seize control of the game when given a chance. The Tigers best scoring opportunity came in the 18th minute when Faber penetrated the far side of the box and unsuccessfully tried to bend the ball inside the near post.His shot was on frame, but clanked off the post and bounced behind the net.