COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — It was, in fact, a tale of two halves.
The Brighton boys soccer team entered its final league contest hoping to move up a spot in the Region 3 standings and played with an extra spark.
The visiting Alta Hawks, meanwhile, started out somewhat flat. It was not until after the halftime break that they really found their stride.
In the end, the efforts averaged out and the rivals played to a 1-1, double-overtime tie Tuesday afternoon.
“It was a real tough, normal Brighton-Alta game,” said Bengals coach Tom Cushing.
Brighton sophomore Hayden Smedley scored the first goal of the game, and his seventh of the season, early in the opening half. In spite of numerous shots throughout the meat of the match, however, neither team found the net again until Alta junior Christian Bain recorded the equalizer in the final minutes of regulation.
“First half, I thought we controlled the midfield pretty well, showed with chances,” Cushing said of the Bengals’ performance. “Second half, for a period, I think the midfield got away from us. In overtime, it was a 50-50 deal, pretty even.”
The Hawks’ coach saw something similar.
“I think they had a real strong second half,” said Mackenzie Hyer of her players. Hyer filled in as the Hawks’ head coach as Lee Mitchell was out due to an illness.
“I was really pleased with the way they finished the game,” she said. “They came together, kind of calmed down a little bit, gained their composure, and just started hitting the ball, taking some shots.”
In another nail-biter earlier in the season, Brighton defeated the Hawks, 2-1, handing Alta one of its two Region 3 losses. Because of that game, on Tuesday, the Hawks were playing for home-field advantage in the upcoming state tournament.
“We’ve got state, and this allowed us to have a home game next week for the first round of the playoffs, which is really awesome,” said Hyer, whose team will host the West Panthers on Tuesday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the one point from the tie was not enough for the Bengals to move into third place in Region 3.
“We wanted the three (points),” said Cushing, whose team will play the Region 2 champions, undefeated Taylorsville, in the first round of the tournament. Still, he was pleased with his team’s effort.
“They played well,” Cushing said. “There’s some things we still need to clean up this week before the tournament starts on Tuesday.”
Now that region play has concluded, the Hawks’ focus is also on prepping for the tournament.
“We’ve been playing really well the last couple of weeks,” Hyer said. “We just need to keep stepping up, stepping up and figuring it out.”
Sarah Thomas earned a degree in Mathematics from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing an MBA at Westminster College. She has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008.