OGDEN — Snow Canyon junior Cole Warner knows how to put the ball in the back of the net.
He’d proven it over the course of a season that saw him score seven goals — second most on Warriors, behind only Jacob Wittwer (13).
Thus, heading into Wednesday afternoon’s first-round matchup in the 4A state tournament against the Ben Lomond Scots, it made sense that Warner could add to his season total.
With only four minutes remaining in a tied game, held at Ben Lomond High School, he did just that.
Warner netted a goal from 40 yards away, drilling a shot over the outstretched hands of Fighting Scots goalkeeper Brandon Leon, not to mention nearly every one of the 22 players on the field.
The score gave the Warriors a goal advantage and, when the final whistle blew a few minutes later, a 2-1 victory.
“He is known for scoring with his head,” Snow Canyon head coach Zac Hales said. “The last game we played in region, though, he scored with his feet and we were all like, ‘Oh, I guess you can score with your feet.’ After this, now we know he can.”
“It was a new experience for sure,” added Warner. “In practice I just tee it up and shoot and (that goal) wasn’t all that different from that. I’ve never scored like that, but I practice it.”
Early in the game Warner’s goal and a Snow Canyon victory seemed not in the least bit likely.
Ben Lomond was far and away the better team through the game’s opening minutes, 20 or so at that.
The Fighting Scots repeatedly found their way through the Warriors back line, which included Warner, and put shot after shot on frame.
If not for repeated saves by Snow Canyon goalie Livan Huerta, the Fighting Scots would have run away with the victory.
“They were by far the better team for the first 25, 30 minutes of that game,” said Hales. “We came out and we were just not ready to play. Pure and simple, we were just not ready. (Ben Lomond) is a great team and they put everything they had into it.”
It was Snow Canyon who got on the scoreboard first though, midway through the first half, thanks to a goal by Luis Gamez.
Moments later, however, Ben Lomond knotted the game up at one goal apiece, after a penalty kick was converted by Villegas.
The teams entered the break tied, a tie that would continue throughout most of the second half.
Unlike the first half, however, the Warriors were the better team.
“We had to make a few adjustments on the field formation-wise,” said Hales. “We just pressed a little higher up the field and tried to deny their penetrating balls through our back line. We did a fantastic job in the second half. The boys, it was all them. They were perfect.”Comment on this story
Time and again those defensive backs shut down Ben Lomond runs in the second half, attacking runs that normally would have netted the Fighting Scots — the highest-scoring team out of Region 11 this season — a goal or two. Certainly enough for a victory.
“Our back line and our goalkeeper, that is where we won the game today,” said Hales.
“We just work together as a group and credit goes to all of them,” Warner added. “We are friends outside of soccer and there is a chemistry between us. We are pretty tall too, that helps for sure.”
The stout defensive play gave the Warriors, specifically Warner, a shot at the win.
It was a shot he didn’t miss.