LEHI Last season, the Lehi Pioneers couldn't seem to win the close soccer games.
This season, so far, they can't seem to lose one. With Tuesday's 1-0 win over the Timpanogos Timberwolves, the Pioneers have now won four games by one goal, three of which have been Region 4 games. The only game Lehi (9-0-1) hasn't won was a scoreless tie at Bingham to open the season.
"We're just believing and enduring this year," Lehi coach Brett Bergholm said of the league-leading and fifth-ranked Pioneers.
With the defense Bergholm has been getting from his back line and goalie Briar Sands, one goal has been all the Pioneers have needed to get past their biggest foes.
"When we don't allow a goal to teams like Lone Peak and Timpanogos, I think we're probably playing as good of defense as any team in the state," he said.
But without the late-game offensive heroics of forward Alyssa Hill on Tuesday, Lehi's defense might have gone to waste. With just a couple of minutes remaining in stoppage time, Hill headed a flip throw-in to herself straight up top, and then once she had some space she let fly with a left-foot rocket that glanced off the fingertips of diving Timpanogos' goalie Alexa Anderson and into the net's right corner.
"I was just trying to find any way I could to get it into the net," Hill said.
Lehi's players were ecstatic with the game-winning goal, knowing it pretty much secured the win, which that came despite the Pioneers' having little offensive rhythm.
"We just seemed to be a pass off or a kick off. But when you play this kind of competition they're going to keep you out of your flow," Bergholm said.
With the way his offense was struggling, the Lehi coach was relieved that Hill's goal kept the Pioneers out of overtime.
"She's sort of found a way to make those big-game plays," Bergholm said.
Earlier, both teams wasted excellent scoring chances. Lehi had a two-on-one against Anderson in the 53rd minute, but the Timpanogos goalie stuffed Hill, and then a shot by Harley Spier sailed wide.
Timpanogos let two very good late chances get away. In the 72nd minute Angelica Dickson found a loose ball at point-blank range, but her quick blast flew high over the crossbar. Two minutes later a hard shot from the left wing by Marissa Nimmer was deflected on a dive by Sands.
Now that the Pioneers are on top of the region they'll need to prove they can win the same kind of big games on the road. They'll probably need to play better offensively and keep turning in the same kind of effort on defense."We're going to keep playing hard and working hard," Hill said. "Hopefully we'll keep finding a way to win."