Any time you can walk away from Alta with a point it’s a good thing. —Brighton coach Brett Rosen
SANDY — After their respective teams shared the points in Tuesday’s 1-1 draw, the latest installment in the Alta-Brighton soccer rivalry, both coaches had a simple summation for the physical, well-played match.
“That was a classic Brighton-Alta game. It’s a battle,” said Brighton coach Brett Rosen.
Added Alta coach Lee Mitchell, “It was Brighton-Alta, and our kids played up to that level.”
The match was physical from the outset, and perhaps even more so in the middle with just two refs assigned to the game. Brighton was on the front foot early, scoring in the 17th minute, but Alta equalized just before halftime.
The pace was fast in the second half and overtime, but neither team could find the winner as they settled for the draw. The Bengals improved to 3-0-2 in the Region 7 standings and stay one point clear of Alta, which improved to 3-1-1 with the tie.
“Any time you can walk away from Alta with a point it’s a good thing,” said Rosen.
Early on, it looked like Brighton might take the full three points. In the 17th minute, senior midfielder David Brog uncorked a shot from 22 yards out that slipped just inside the post and past the outstretched fingertips of Alta’s keeper for the 1-0 lead.
“We play a very dynamic style that involves a lot of movement, a lot of passing, and teams struggle to recognize it when we first come out and play, and it was working against them,” said Rosen. “We were finding the holes and we were playing it forward. We got a goal and we almost got a couple more, which would’ve changed the game.”
Alta almost had a couple as well in the early going. Jack Anderson whipped a shot from distance off the crossbar in the 13th minute, and then in the 20th minute Kenny Kocherscheidt caught Brighton’s keeper out of position on a long ball, but he chipped his shot wide of the open net.
The Hawks eventually equalized just seconds for the halftime whistle as Josh Affleck scored on a rolling 30-yard free kick that caught Brighton’s keeper leaning the wrong way.
Harrison Nuttall anticipated that Affleck might try and curl the free kick up and over the wall, and was caught wrong footed when Affleck instead drilled a hard roller past the right side of the wall and inside the far post.
Both defenses were incredibly sharp in the second half as neither attack could string the necessary passes together to unlock the defense.
Brighton’s best chance at a winner came in the 65th minute as Alex Fankhauser sent a tight-angled shot after a through ball from Brog wide of the post.
Alta’s best chance came in overtime as Affleck forced Nuttall to make a diving save on a free kick in the 99th minute, and then on the ensuing corner kick Lehi Jensen sent a header wide.
Both squads will now try to take care of business over their next four region games to set up a rematch on the final day of the regular season for the Region 7 title.
“We did a lot of really good things today with our possession and our movement going forward. We’ll take that as a positive,” said Rosen.
Mitchell said his team played very well to corral Brighton’s explosive attack most of the game, but said the defending state champs aren’t where they need to be yet in their repeat bid.