HOLLADAY — The Olympus Titans hosted the Box Elder Bees in the wind and rain in a 5A state quarterfinal matchup. The Bees entered riding the momentum of a big win against Alta, a team considered to be one of the major contenders for the state title. The Titans came in having won nine of their previous 10 matches, with only two losses in the entire season.
From the opening kickoff to the final whistle, Olympus controlled the ball and the pace of the game. The first portion of the game was spent with each team sizing the other up and careful passes between the mid and back lines trying to advance the ball. Olympus took the initiative and began to make deeper runs and opened up the game, their first close shot coming in the 16th minute on a missed header by sophomore forward Ervin Huremovic. Keeping the ball down in the Box Elder end, Olympus captain and senior forward Adam Naylor missed a crowded shot high. Box Elder quickly retaliated, taking the ball off the goal line to the other end where a shot pelted by Bees’ senior forward Joshua Duncan from 22 yards out was gathered by Titans’ keeper Ian Jones.
Olympus continued to pressure Box Elder through the first half, briefly interrupted by a 30-plus yard shot on goal by Box Elder senior midfielder David Rossberg. The Titans closed out the first half with a shot by senior forward Hayden Earl in the 30th minute that hooked just left, a wide-open shot by sophomore midfielder Edvin Sabic that was denied by the right post in the 32nd minute, and a dangerous free kick from junior forward Alec Foulger that ricocheted off the crossbar in the 34th minute of the half.
“We felt it coming and at half, everyone was hyping each other," Earl said about the team’s response to the missed shots in the first half. “No one was getting down.”
The Titans did not waste any time coming into the half as they finally broke through in the first minute of continued play. A 15-yard arching shot by Naylor glanced off the Bees diving keeper into the net for the first goal of the game in the 41st minute. Box Elder continued to play a tough, physical game, contesting loose balls in the middle of the field and clearing the ball from danger with consistency. Olympus kept attacking as Naylor found another good look from 10 yards out, but the ball bounced off both the right post and the crossbar before being cleared by Box Elders’ defense. The constant pressure of the Titans’ offense proved to be too much and goals in the 61st and 63rd minute by Titans’ forwards Earl and Huremovic off of balls left out over the center of the net cemented the win for Olympus.
“There were a few minor adjustments, but really, there wasn’t a whole lot to say. We were doing all the right things; they just weren’t going in the net,” Olympus coach Chris Sonntag said of the changes that were made at halftime. “We felt as soon as we got the one that they would start rolling.”
“We were creating chances in the first half, but just unlucky. Hit the pole a few times and their keep had a few good saves,” Olympus captain Naylor said regarding the team’s success in the second half.
“I think the biggest thing was intensity. Keep the intensity how we had it in the first half and shoot for the corners instead of just as hard as we could,” Huremovic added.
Box Elder returns home after making it to the playoffs for the third consecutive year.Comment on this story
“A message that we can take back to the underclassmen is say, ‘Hey, we had a goal to at least get in, to be the final 16, final eight in the state and we did that,’” Box Elder coach Nate Bywater said after the loss. “Silver lining is that we did not do as well as we wanted, but we did enough to show that the things that we’re doing are the things that put us on the right step and in the right direction.”
Olympus will advance to the semifinals and face the winner of the match between Roy and Wasatch on May 21 at 6:30 p.m.