Story and photos by Kurt Johnson
LAYTON – When your high school soccer team has reached a certain level in national rankings you have to expect to have a target on your back every time you take the pitch. Add in a little neighborly rivalry, and you have the makings of a great battle.
That’s what happened Tuesday afternoon in Layton, where the Lancers hosted unbeaten Davis in a girls soccer game. The Darts are currently No. 6 in the USA Today/NSCAA national rankings and that created a lot of incentive for Layton, which likely didn’t need much help in that area to being with.
The Lancers went head-to-head with Davis, answering every challenge with a strong response, and the result was a highly entertaining and competitive match. In the 62nd minute, the Darts turned a corner kick into a goal and that was enough to allow the defending Class 5A champions to hold on for a 2-1 win that keeps them unbeaten for the season.
This Davis team has a ton of firepower, and even with one of its leading scorers, sophomore midfielder Olivia Wade, away from the team training with the U-17 national team, there were a ton of other weapons with which Layton had to contend. One of those amazing scorers, senior Ireland Dunn, got the Darts on the scoreboard just four minutes in.
The striker pushed the ball towards the middle of the field, about 20 yards out just above the 18-yard box. Having created space, Dunn rifled a left-footed blast top shelf, out of reach for Lancer goalkeeper Abbey Bush for the game’s initial tally.
A goal that early in the contest has generally been a bad sign for Davis opponents as the Darts tend to feed off the momentum. They have scored 64 goals in 10 games and allowed just five.
On this afternoon, the Lancers turned up their game another notch once they were behind on the scoreboard, and it took just four minutes for them to respond. Livia Borges unleashed a free kick from about 25 yards out that beat Davis keeper Kendyl Baker to the far post to level the match.
The game remained even through intermission, though Bush had some work to do to keep it that way. Play for the most part went back and forth, but in the 39th minute, senior Davis forward Riley Jacobs found some space in the middle of the penalty area, and let loose a shot from about 15 yards out.
The shot was turned aside by Bush, but not without a rebound that gave Jacobs another chance. Bush also turned that one aside just well enough for the ball to be cleared away, sending the teams to halftime even at 1-1.
The highly competitive exchange continued into the second half, with Davis attacking behind Dunn, Mikayla Colohan, Megan Rowe and Regyn Youngberg and turning back each Layton attack thanks to a strong effort from its defense, anchored by seniors Haylee Caccicarne and Mia Stoddard.
The Lancers received outstanding play from their midfield, led by Borges and Haylee Elmore, and got a number of strong attacking runs from Kenzie Humpherys.
Then came that moment in the 62nd minute when Davis forced a corner kick that turned into a scoring chance on which the Darts delivered. After the initial kick, the ball rebounded towards the post, where senior forward Megan Rowe volleyed it home for what turned out to be the game-winning goal.
Borges, Elmore and Humpherys turned up the intensity level even more in response to the Davis goal, but Layton was unable to equalize, allowing the Darts to survive for the 2-1 victory that puts them firmly in control of first place in Region 2.
The Lancers (4-1-1 in Region 2, 4-3-3 overall) are back in action Thursday back on the home pitch against West (2-4, 4-6). Davis (6-0, 10-0) has a bye Thursday before visiting Granger (1-5, 2-8) next Tuesday.