They had to overcome more than just Cedar today. I told them the only thing you control is what you do and they did it. —Skylar Stam
OGDEN — When the final whistle blew, signaling the end of Wednesday afternoon’s first-round contest between the Ogden Tigers (12-3-1) and the Cedar Redmen (8-8-0), it was pretty clear which high school boasted the better side.
After all, the Tigers had controlled possession for what felt like the entire game. They had racked up the shot attempts as well, over 20 in total, while the Redmen had been limited to less than half of that total.
The clearest indicator of Tiger superiority was illuminated on the scoreboard at the Spence Eccles Ogden Community Sports Complex: Ogden 3, Cedar 2.
According to Tigers head coach Skylar Stam, the success of the home team wasn’t due to any superior schemes, formations or halftime adjustments. The victory, and in fact all 12 of Ogden's wins this season, came down to one thing.
“I have said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s the girls. It is honestly the girls,” said Stam. “They had to overcome more than just Cedar today. I told them the only thing you control is what you do and they did it.”
The Tiger faithful owed the 3-2 victory to a few girls in particular, including Alicia Butters, Kadrey Howell and Sarah Halverson (each netted a goal for Ogden).
And yet, the MVP of the match very well may have been none of those players, rather freshman Lana Mccurry. The forward was a super-sub for the Tigers, coming off the bench to set up both Butters and Howell on their scores.
“She is a good player,” said Stam. “A lot of people underestimate (Lana) and she proves a lot of people wrong. When she wants to, she works. When she works, things get done.”
Despite their statistical superiority, Ogden needed the contributions of all the aforementioned players and then some against the Redmen.
The teams looked fairly evenly matched at the outset, with Cedar holding a slight edge. Both sides got off a shot in the first 10 minutes, and yet, the Tigers appeared unsettled, even overwhelmed by the stage.
“The first half was a little scary. A little ugly. We didn’t play well,” said Stam. “Cedar came out and played well.”
It wasn’t until midway through the half that Ogden got their first breakthrough, thanks to Mccurry and Butters. The pair of Tigers executed a corner kick to perfection, with Butters heading in the ball for the score.
Almost immediately, Ogden was back on the attack and this time, Butters linked up with Howell. Unfortunately, Howell’s attempt sailed on her, flying over the crossbar.
That miss set the stage for a rash of Tiger misses. Ogden had five shots to end the half, only one of which managed to stay on frame.
“It is definitely frustrating,” Halverson said of the misses. “We just had to remember that we would get more chances. We couldn’t get in our own heads and just had to keep going.”
Adding to the Tigers frustration was a penalty kick awarded to Cedar. Redmen senior Kaitlyn Rowley drilled that gift past Ogden keeper Allison Collinwood, knotting the game at one goal apiece heading into the half.
When the teams emerged after the break, the Tigers were nearly unrecognizable.
“The girls turned it around. They answered the challenge in the second half, said Stam.
The first answer came via Howell. Midway through the half, the sophomore forward reeled in a Mccurry cross and drilled it past Cedar goalie Morgan Crites.
Halverson followed that score with her own, on a through pass from Howell.
“To be honest it’s all kind of a blur now,” said Halverson. “I just remember that there were two defenders and the goalie. The ball came out and I just thought, ‘I need to get it in the back of the net.’ I turned toward the goal and the only thing I remember is seeing the ball go in.”
That score gave Ogden a two-goal lead, which proved to be just enough of a cushion to give the Tigers the win.
“They decided that they wanted to play on Saturday,” said Stam. “They made it happen.”