SANDY — Toward the end of Tuesday afternoon’s contest between Alta and Orem, a Tiger parent, in an attempt to inspire boisterous cheers, exclaimed, “this is soccer, not tennis!” The refrain had its desired effect on the Tiger faithful; they were noticeably more vocal afterward, and yet her exclamation missed the mark just a little. After 80 minutes of physical, gritty, and at times angry soccer, it was clear that the game between the Hawks and Tigers was, in fact, Region 7 soccer.
“There is not an easy game in this region,” Alta head coach Lee Mitchell said. “There wasn’t last year and there isn’t this year. There is emotion and hard play every game, and today was a dogfight.”
“Every region game is important. Every team is trying to fight for a spot,” Hawks midfielder Nick Lowrimore added. “Any team you play with quality, it’s going to be a fight, and this region is full of quality teams.”
The Hawks emerged from Tuesday’s clash with the 2-0 win over the Tigers, thanks in part to first half goals by Noah Plowman and Ethan Bell. The key to the Alta victory, however, was the stalwart play of the midfield and defense.
Orem appeared to have an edge at the outset of the contest, particularly in the midfield. Lucas Astudillo and Eric Gomez caused all kinds of havoc at first — their skill on ball in particular seemed to cause the Hawks fits. As a result of stellar individual play by the Tigers, Orem was able to put significant pressure on Alta’s keeper, Adam Teerlink. Through the first twenty minutes of play, the Tigers had four excellent shots on goal. Each shot was stopped by Teerlink, however, and midway through the first half everything changed.
“We started a little slow; the kids are kids sometimes,” said Mitchell. “When they want to play they can play, and we focused and played our game.”
“They were really skilled and took us one-on-one,” added Lowrimore. “We work on that all the time in practice but you don’t see it every game. We had to work really hard to stay in front of them and just tried to get the ball back.”
Whatever adjustments the Hawks made worked, as Alta controlled the game the rest of the way. With 16 minutes remaining in the first half Alta was awarded a corner kick, and the set piece worked to perfection. Plowman was on the receiving end of the cross, and the senior sent the ball sailing past Orem keeper Mckay Huffaker and into the back of the net.
Six minutes later, the Hawks were awarded a penalty kick, which Bell calmy shot into the right side of the goal.
“We work on those set plays in practice,” said Mitchell. “We just went out and scored on them.”
The second half was all Alta. The Hawks racked up scoring chance after scoring chance, to the tune of at least six shots on goal. By comparison, the Tigers were held to a measly three shot attempts in the second half, only one of which challenged Teerlink.
“(Adam) played an excellent game, as did (Kyron Sidwell) and (Colby Young). They have been great on defense all year,” said Mitchell.
Teerlink, who now has five shutouts this season, was especially vocal from the back, motivating and directing his teammates throughout the game.
Emotions flared toward the end, as befits a match between region foes. Yellow cards were handed out and sideline warnings issued to fans.
“It was intense,” said Lowrimore. “They were right behind us in the region before this game so this win was definitely important.”
With the win, the Hawks improve to 8-1 on the season, with a 6-1 record in Region 7. The Tigers fall to 5-5 and 4-3 in region play.
Up next, Alta will play this Friday at rival Corner Canyon, while Orem will host a rival of its own in Mountain View.