Story and photos by Kurt Johnson
COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS – The battle for boys soccer supremacy in Class 5A this season may run through Region 3 once again. In the tussle for positioning within that highly competitive league, Friday’s showdown between Bingham and Brighton provided an early preview.
In a hotly contested battle that drew a pretty good-sized crowd to Brighton’s soccer facility, the two powerhouse programs traded the momentum back and forth before the Miners got the best of the home team, using a goal in extra time to claim a 3-2 victory and the early upper hand in the league standings.
The Bengals jumped to an early lead as senior Ben Fankhauser ran onto a through-ball inside the 18-yard box and touched it past the advancing keeper into the net. The 12th-minute goal put the home team on top 1-0, a lead that held until intermission.
While the Miners held a slight advantage in ball possession, Brighton was extremely dangerous on the counter. The Fankhauser tally came at the tail end of a transition run and it was followed about a minute later by another point-blank scoring chance.
This time, senior striker Hayden Smedley pushed the ball past Bingham goalkeeper Tanner Bengtzen and let loose a strike from 15 yards out. The ball caromed off the far post and rebounded back into the field of play, leaving the count at 1-0.
Both teams managed runs deep into enemy territory, but there were few other great scoring chances during the opening half. Brighton keeper David Shumway did use his quick reactions to turn away a Miner blast he seemed to see late as it came through a group of players in the 30th minute and he went to the break clean.
That, however, did not last, as Bingham broke through in the first minute of the second half to level the match. As the Bengals failed in their attempt to clear an early attack deep into their defensive third, junior midfielder Leonardo Sobreira pounced for the Miners.
Sobreira ripped a shot on frame from about 20 yards out that made its way between defenders and took a friendly bounce past Shumway and into the back of the net. The end-to-end action continued from there, until Bingham took advantage of another opportunity in the 62nd minute.
This time, Brighton did a nice job turning aside a free kick, but the second chance kicked out to the back side of the play, where Isaiah Cardoso was waiting. The junior forward ran down the free ball for the Miners, turned it back and the finished with his left foot past Shumway to the far post, putting Bingham on top 2-1.
It appeared the Miners were in control, with Bengtzen and his defensive mates, led by Nathan Devenberg and Stantson Miles, turning back advance after advance. Then, a mistake opened the door for Brighton, and Fankhauser crashed through it with the equalizer.
In the 74th minute, Smedley made a strong run down the right side and into the penalty area. A Bingham defender took the senior down in the box, setting up a penalty kick. Fankhauser stepped up to the spot and ripped a low, hard shot to Bengtzen’s left and past the diving keeper to even things up at 2-2.
Within the next two minutes, each goalie was tested, but both responded, and in the 79th minute, Smedley had the last good scoring chance of regulation time. He beat the Miner defense and had a line on the shot, but a Bingham defender got enough of his shot to force it just wide, setting up an unsuccessful corner kick. That, followed by a couple of minutes of scoreless stoppage time, set up overtime.
Seven minutes into the extra session, junior Miner midfielder beat the Brighton defense on the right side, reaching the goal line before dropping a pass back to the edge of the 6-yard box at the near post. Sobreira was on the spot there, and headed the ball home just inside the post for the golden goal game-winner.
For the Bengals (1-2-0 in Region 3 play, 4-2-1 overall), it was a second consecutive league loss, as Brighton dropped its Wednesday road game at another of the state’s top teams, Copper Hills (2-0, 4-2-1). Next up for Brighton is West Jordan (0-3-0, 0-6-1).
Bingham (2-0-0, 5-0-0) hosts Copper Hills Friday in a battle for the region’s early top spot.