WOODS CROSS — A defensive struggle isn't something Bountiful usually expects to see these days. The Braves have grown so accustomed to burying opponents under an avalanche of goals that it feels almost shocking on any occasion when it doesn't happen.

Woods Cross showed a determination not to find itself on the wrong end of a blowout, so the Braves had to resort to more defensive measures.

And defense delivered for Bountiful. The Braves needed just a single goal from Monica Okapal in the 16th minute to secure a 1-0 road victory over the Wildcats on Tuesday afternoon.

Given the nature of the rivalry between both teams, Bountiful coach Dave Wigham understood it would be a tight game until the final whistle.

"It's going to be one goal no matter what," Wigham said. "They know us and our tendencies. We know them and their tendencies. So it doesn't surprise me we don't score a lot of goals."

The lone breakthrough came when Taylor Hunt found Okapal streaking alongside the perimeter of the penalty area. Hunt crossed the ball to her feet and Okapal drilled it toward the far post. She found just the right angle to knock the ball deep into the far corner.

The senior forward never expected her early score would turn out to be the only goal that the Braves would see all day. But she thought it would ultimately prove to be a good experience to survive such a game as the season progresses.

"It just shows we can play a full game," Okapal said. "It's really hard for us to usually play the whole game and it feels like today we played. We competed the whole time."

Defensively, the Braves did a good job of containing Nikki Fernandes for a full 80 minutes. Fernandes did create a few scoring chances — especially in the first half — but just could not convert them.

Her first opportunity at an equalizer came in the 19th minute with a penalty kick. Fernandes shanked the ball wide of the post. Then, in the 22nd minute, the senior squeezed between two Braves defenders and blasted the ball in one fluid motion, but could not get it past Amy Clark's hands.

Bountiful inserted freshmen Aubry Eggett and Alexis Peterson at fullback in an effort to counter Fernandes' quickness.

"She had her chances, but we said Nikki is not going to beat us," Wigham said.


E-MAIL: jcoon@desnews.com