Story and photos by Kurt Johnson
OREM – After back-to-back losses to Skyline and Olympus provided a temporary setback for a highly regarded Mountain View High boys soccer team, the Bruins responded this week in a big way. A win over previously unbeaten Murray got the team back on track, and then Mountain View picked up an impressive 2-0 road win Friday against Timpanogos.
The game featured a contrast in approaches, with the Bruins looking to push the ball to its midfielders, and in particular its outside midfielders to initiate the offense, while the Timberwolves spend a lot of effort working the ball through their outside backs, who tend to push up heavily with the attack.
Those differences tended to make Mountain View the aggressor in ball control leading through its offensive third, while Timpanogos generated most of its scoring chances on balls over the top, targeting striker Ryan Steggell. Even when those passes connected, the Bruin defense made it difficult for Steggell and his teammates to hold the ball high in the attacking area long enough to mount any dangerous scoring opportunities against Mountain View goalkeeper Zac Bryant.
Part of the problem for the Timberwolves came because they were playing from behind almost from the outset. In the eighth minute of the match, Max Ortiz sent a free kick into the penalty area, where it found talented James Pena. The senior forward got his head onto the ball and drove it past Caiden Brown, who was between the posts for Timpanogos.
From there, the game really came down to the ability of Elias Lartey, Kade Hernandez, Facundo Soto and the Bruin defense to win free balls, run Timpanogos attackers off the ball and then punch it wide to those waiting outside midfielders. Jackson McBride was noticeably adept during the first half at staying almost on the touch line out to the right, giving his defensive teammates plenty of open grass in which to play the ball wide and clear from their end of the pitch.
Leading 1-0 heading into the second half, Mountain View looked sure to double its advantage not long after intermission. Eight minutes into the second stanza, Levi Bergen was the recipient of a crossing ball about 10 yards out at the back post, with no one to deny his shot on goal. The resulting ball struck the post squarely and rebounded straight back into the field of play, leaving the one-goal deficit intact for the Timberwolves.
Even with the contest that close on the scoreboard, there were few moments when you had the feeling Timpanogos would dent the scoreboard and deny the Bruins the victory. The Mountain View midfielders and defense were ever-present, turning aside every advance before it became a major scoring chance.
It was the 80th minute before Pena put the game officially on ice, finishing a run from the keeper’s left to double the advantage. The striker broke free on the edge and headed straight towards Brown, without much of a scoring angle. As he arrived and got Brown off his line, Pena slipped the ball between the goalie and the post, into the net.
Mountain View (4-2 in Region 7, 7-2-1 overall) completes its first pass through the league schedule in good shape, in what has become a very difficult region on which to get a read. The Bruins start the second half on their home field against Timpanogos (2-3, 4-4-1) on April 15, while the Timberwolves face Corner Canyon (1-2-1, 4-3-1) April 14.