WOODS CROSS Bountiful is back in the 4A state championship game for the second straight year after pounding out a 3-2 win over Springville on Tuesday.
The Braves needed the full 80 minutes to subdue the strong and scrappy Red Devils and ultimately walked away feeling their performance was sub-par. But two second-half goals got the job done and moved them within a step of back-to-back championships.
"Ugly win," said Bountiful coach Lou Plank. "They deserve to win in the finest of fashion, and that was not a great performance. They needed to win in this fashion kind of an ugly way to wake us up."
Bountiful struggled with a Springville team that did what it has done well all season. The Red Devils answered every punch thrown their way and dictated the tempo for long stretches. The Braves were just one play better in the second half, and that was the difference on the scoreboard.
"There are four really good teams that showed up here at this point," said Springville coach Rick Bertelsen. "It comes down to one play here or there. We made some mistakes at the back. We didn't finish the opportunities that we were given."
In the opening 20 minutes Bountiful created a lot of pressure and finished with a goal from Jim Allred in the 23rd minute. The turning point came two minutes later when the Red Devils won a penalty kick. Bryson Pope scored from the spot and killed the Braves' momentum.
Early in the second half Springville missed a couple of chances to take the lead, being denied by the goalkeeper on a one-on-one shot and then sending a wide-open header over the cross bar.
In the 61st minute the Red Devils' Josh Reidhead scored on a rebound but was ruled offside. Four minutes later Bountiful retook the lead when Mike Knight's shot hit the cross bar and was chested in by Nate Higginson.
A 71st minute header by Joe Shinners tied the score at 2-2, but with overtime right around the corner, Jonathon Luce headed in the winning goal on a 75th minute corner kick. Time ran out before Springville could find another chance.
"They followed us within two or three minutes of every goal," said Plank. "That's not how we play. Our defense is not that porous. We got lazy."
The Braves will take on Mountain View, which is also playing in its second straight championship game. "They have very good leadership and a very good crew," said Plank. "I think we can beat them, but it's going to take our A game and not this game that we played today."