Even though the Highland Rams are a vastly improved soccer team this year, they're learning that beating the Bountiful Braves is as hard as ever.
The third-ranked Braves played outstanding defense and generated just enough offense in beating the Rams 2-1 in Tuesday's region match.
"We just need to put more in the net," said Bountiful coach Dave Wigham. "We had plenty of chances."
Creating chances hasn't been a problem for the Braves this year, but finishing those chances has been. Wigham hopes the problem is worked out by the state tournament in three weeks, and despite scoring just twice against Highland, his team took a positive step in ensuring it happens.
Bountiful entered the game on a rare losing streak — if you can call one loss a losing streak. The Braves lost to East 4-2 last Thursday, the defending 4A champs' first loss of the year. It would have been easy for the players to doubt themselves entering the game.
Wigham was pleased his team didn't dwell on that loss.
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"I knew they'd be OK. They weren't pleased with the result last Thursday," said Wigham.
Bountiful's defense in particular struggled against East, but they more than made up for it against Highland.
Goals by Val Haslam in the 20th minute and Andra Hansen in the 42nd minute put the Braves ahead 2-0, and with the way Bountiful's defense had played up until then, a Highland rally seemed very unlikely. However, just when the lead seemed insurmountable, Highland's Erika Rock cut the deficit to one with 20 minutes remaining.
Now the pressure was really on Bountiful's defense. One more mistake and the game would be tied, and in that situation anything can happen. That scenario never panned out. Just as they did all game, the Braves' defenders were quick to stamp out any Highland attack.
The win improved Bountiful's record to 9-1 while Highland fell to 5-6.
"We're just tuning up to see who we can count on at state," said Wigham.
In other Tuesday games:
CLEARFIELD 3, WEBER 2: Falcons' goalie Jennie Overdiek made a critical save in the shootout to help her team avenge an earlier loss to Weber. The game was tied at 1-1 after regulation and 2-2 after overtime. Whitney Carver and Julie Russell scored for the Warriors.
VIEWMONT 1, NORTHRIDGE 0:Sandra Holt scored in the last 10 seconds of the first half to give Viewmont the win over Northridge. Freshman goal keeper Emalee Rogers earned the shutout.
LAYTON 2, DAVIS 0:Kathy Peterson and Wendy Stratford came up with goals to get the Lancers past Davis.
BRIGHTON 7, WEST JORDAN 0:Liz Bogus scored four goals for the Bengals, Rachel Filmore, Ashlee Maughn and Abby Ogaard each added one.
HILLCREST 3, COPPER HILLS 1: The Huskies improved to 4-6 in region by beating the winless Grizzlies.
JORDAN 5, ALTA 2:Rochelle Hoover knocked home two goals and Jennie Haertel added two assists as the top-ranked Beetdiggers whipped the fourth-ranked Hawks. Amanda Feigt, Lora Smith and Lacy Jenkins also scored for Jordan, while Shelby Mayo and Allison Martino scored for Alta.
BINGHAM 4, RIVERTON 0: Great play from defenders Abbie Siebenhaar, Jenny Jenkins, Trista DeHart and Lindsay Roothoff helped the Miners blank the Silver Wolves. Bingham goalie Rana McMurtrey earned the shutout.
SKYLINE 6, COTTONWOOD 0:Lindi Theurer and Danielle Thiroit each scored twice for the Eagles, while Courtney Kjar and Whitney Fenton helped finish off the Colts.
HUNTER 2, KEARNS 1: The Cougars' Kira Sharp scored first, but Hunter's Nikki McConnell tied the game, forcing a shootout. The Wolverines won the game in a shootout 4-3, as both goal keepers played excellent defensive games.
TAYLORSVILLE 13, GRANGER 0:Charlsie Harris had seven goals for the Warriors. Lisa Richardson had two in the win over Granger.
MOUNTAIN CREST 1, SKY VIEW 0:Mary Schaelling recorded her seventh straight shutout as the top-ranked Mustangs beat the fourth-ranked Bobcats in a shootout. Heidi Miller and Jennifer McCann played outstanding defense for the Mustangs.
BONNEVILLE 5, ROY 1: A pair of goals from Jacqueline Cosnyka and one each from Kelsie Garrett, Sharree McMillan and Heidi Hensley helped the Lakers stomp the Royals.
LOGAN 1, BOX ELDER 0:Michelle Bergsjo's overtime goal lifted the Grizzlies to their second region win of the year.
WOODS CROSS 8, CYPRUS 1: The Wildcats had a hat trick from Kelli Anderson in their win over the Pirates. Anderson's younger sister Kimly Anderson and Tiffany Sullivan each had two goals, while teammate Mary Lyon had a single goal in the win. For Cyprus, Kristi Nisson scored the only goal.
EAST 5, MURRAY 1:Taryn Nicolaides scored two goals as the fifth-ranked Leopards spanked the Spartans.
WEST 2, OLYMPUS 1:Jesse Berggren scored the game-winner to help West upset the Titans. Jill Christensen scored the Panthers first goal, Adrianne Davis scored for Olympus.
SPRINGVILLE 3, AMERICAN FORK 0: Red Devils' freshman Jamie Hatfield recorded two goals and Kailey Reed added another as Springville improved to 4-2 in region play.
PROVO 2, PAYSON 0:Cami Hofheins and freshman Gana Davis both recorded goals, and Britney Gutzman played a great game in the midfield as the Bulldogs blanked the Lions.
TIMPVIEW 8, SPANISH FORK 0:Becca Peterson had four of Timpview's eight goals in their win over the Dons. Goalkeeper Meredith Simmons recorded the shutout for Timpview.
MOUNTAIN VIEW 9, TIMPANOGOS 0:Kaycee Zimmerman earned a shutout in the Bruins win over the T-wolves. Teammates Courtney Asay, Jenny Johnson and Davia King each scored two goals in Mountain View's offensive domination.
OREM 9, PLEASANT GROVE 0:Jeanette Love scored two goals as did Hillary Smith as the Tigers handled Pleasant Grove. Kara Busath recorded the shutout. Tiffany Jones had three assists.
NORTH SANPETE 2, CARBON 1: Goals by Casey Jacobsen and Stephanie Reid propelled the Hawks past the Dinos, whose lone goal was scored by Kristina Kontgas.
LEHI 5, DELTA 2:Amy Price's two goals helped the second-ranked Pioneers knock off the Rabbits. Jill Anderson and Christie Meinhardt recorded goals for Delta.
CEDAR 1, SNOW CANYON 0:Stacie Stuart broke a scoreless tie to get the win for Cedar. Freshman Tara Williams kept her first shutout.
PINE VIEW 4, DIXIE 1:Jamie McFadden had a goal and an assist in Pine View's win over Dixie. Teammates Stari Dias had two goals, Sherry Johnson had one goal and Blair Jorgensen had two assists.
CANYON VIEW 4, HURRICANE 1: The Falcons improved to 3-3 in Region 9 with a convincing win over the Tigers.
JUDGE MEMORIAL 9, GRANITE 0: Bulldog keepers Alyssa Blackburn and Melanie Hopkins earned the ninth-straight shutout for Judge. Erin Morrison scored three goals, Asha Richardson got two.
PARK CITY 2, WASATCH 0: After a scoreless first half, Kristen Ideson broke the tie with a goal for Park City. Kristin Silvestri scored on a penalty kick to win it.
UINTAH 5, UNION 1:Maggie Bartel scored twice as the Utes improved to 4-3 in region play.
BEAR RIVER 4, TOOELE 0: Bear River got its first shutout of the season against Tooele.
BEN LOMOND 8, GRANTSVILLE 0:Natalie Ray's three goals led the Scots to their sixth win.
MORGAN 3, OGDEN 1:Jayne Smalley's two first-half goals and Nancy Alexander's second-half tally helped the Trojans earn the big region victory. Ali Wilkinson played outstanding defense for Morgan.
JUAN DIEGO 3, WATERFORD 1: The Soaring Eagle won by two goals in overtime.
SOUTH SUMMIT 6, ROWLAND HALL 1:Erin Burke, Lindsey Holmes and Taylor Allred each scored for Rowland Hall in its convincing win over South Summit. Kim Grow scored the Wildcats' lone goal.