Normally, everyone likes a little challenge.
In the case of Brighton goalkeeper Jessica Jacobs, challenges are what make the world go around.Jacobs challenged the Alta Hawks, and every other team she met in the playoffs, in a very literal way and lifted the Bengals to a 1-0 win and the 5A girls soccer championship.
"She was just incredible," said Brighton coach Kathy Kuhn after winning her third state title with the Bengals. "Jessica knew what we needed to win, and she gave us everything she had. She wasn't going to be denied."
Alta, though, was a difficult team to deny.
Splitting a pair of regular-season meetings and being only a few miles apart ensured that this would be no easy win for either team. It came down to Brighton playing a little better at the right times.
"Their intensity level was a little greater than ours was today," said an emotional Alta coach Lee Mitchell. "But there's a lot of teams that would love to be here where we are."
Brighton got a rebound shot on a loose ball in the game's first few minutes from Jessica Horoba and held on for the win as Jacobs took control of her end of the field.
Jacobs dominated her box and despite numerous shots and pressure-filled plays, never lost control of the game. The senior keeper was, perhaps, the biggest reason the Bengals claimed their third state title.
"No matter what, I have the advantage," Jacobs said, "because I can use my hands. I'm not afraid of running into players. I love to knock them down."
And knock them down is exactly what she did.
Whenever the ball approached the net, Jacobs didn't just sit back and wait for the action to happen. She created the action by charging the ball and physically challenging any Hawks in the immediate vicinity. The take-no-prisoners mentality went a long way as Jacobs, after clearly defining her personal space, never flinched despite the numerous Alta scoring threats in the game.
"These girls had a goal at the beginning of the season to take state," Kuhn said. "I don't think we played very well when we lost to Alta a couple weeks ago. I think we came back and showed what kind of soccer team we can be."
The Bengals, despite not having all-state forward Amber Anderson in the lineup due to injury, dominated much of the action with offensive pressure. Alta keeper Megan Mills made several big saves to keep the score close; the goal in the third minute of the contest was all it took.