To be honest, that game should have been over a lot earlier than it was. I can’t say I’m super thrilled. I know 4-0 and one thing or another, but we were a little lackadaisical. —Ella Duce
WOODS CROSS — With her team up two goals to none, and just over eight minutes remaining in the contest against the Bountiful Braves, Woods Cross senior Ella Duce was frustrated.
It didn’t matter that she had already netted two scores. It didn’t matter that the Wildcats were all but guaranteed to claim another Region 5 win. All that mattered was getting the ball into the goal, a feat that was proving a bit difficult for the Wildcats.
“A few girls had had shots before (the ball) popped out to me,” said Duce. “I was honestly frustrated that we hadn’t put it in after so many chances, so I just ripped it.”
At first, it seemed that her shot would sail well over the crossbar, a result Duce experienced a few times Tuesday afternoon. As it soared through the air, however, the ball slowed, thanks to a powerful backspin. Before too long, it reached the goal, clipped the underside of the crossbar and settled into the back of the net.
“It just had a ton of backspin and floated in,” said Duce. “It was crazy.”
That score gave Duce a hat trick, her first of the season. Her showing, combined with a late score by sophomore Katie Longmore, gave the Wildcats all they needed and then some, as they walked away from Tuesday’s bout with a 4-0 victory.
“It was just a fun game to play in.” said Duce. “The girls delivered how they had to for me up top and we took advantage of our chances.”
And yet, as far as Woods Cross head coach Dave Newman was concerned, the Wildcats have a lot of work to do before the state tournament.
“To be honest, that game should have been over a lot earlier than it was,” said Newman. “I can’t say I’m super thrilled. I know 4-0 and one thing or another, but we were a little lackadaisical.”
At no point was that more evident than in the opening minutes of the game. From the outset, the Braves looked the more determined team. They controlled the pace of play and as a result had more than a few shots on goal.
The most threatening of those chances came less than ten minutes into the contest, when Summer Ashby found Meagan Quinn streaking toward the box. A score seemed certain, had it not been for Woods Cross goalie Rachel Noel.
The senior goalkeeper rushed out of the goal and smothered Quinn’s shot, brilliantly negating the threat.
“(Rachel) has picked her game up a little bit for us,” said Newman.
Eventually, the Wildcats began to take over the game. First came a barrage of through passes, which were just untimely enough to cause quite a few offsides calls against the Wildcats.
“We weren’t really quick enough in what we were doing in the final third,” said Newman. “You do three things in the final third, shoot quick, dribble quick or combine quick. We were doing nothing quick.”
The Woods Cross midfielders adjusted, however, and, just like that, Duce netted her first goal, courtesy of a Camryn Henson through pass.
The second half brought more of the same, with Duce scoring again, three minutes in, on yet another timely pass.
“The midfield wasn’t delivering as fast as we would like at times early on, but they cleaned that up,” said Duce.
As the half progressed it became clear which team was the better side.
The Wildcats recorded upwards of 13 shots on goal in the second half, with Sara Noel outshooting the Braves herself, five to three. “How many chances did we make, with them not playing as well as I would have liked,” said Newman. “We probably should have mercy-ruled the game.”
Newman added, “it is just getting to that time of the season where you have to ask a bit more from your team. I know it sounds crazy, but I just want us to be a bit better.”
This latest victory lifts the Wildcats to 7-1-4 (5-0-1 in Region 5) this season, while the Braves fell to 8-5-0 (4-3-0).
Bountiful next plays Thursday, against Box Elder, in what is set to be the Braves' regular season finale. Woods Cross, meanwhile, has two games left before the state tournament, including Thursday's match at Roy.