WOODS CROSS — Set plays in soccer can be a dangerous scoring opportunity. Players such as France's Zinedine Zidane — widely recognized as the world's best free-kick scorer— have led their teams to World Cups or club championships. They have made millions of dollars because of them. But for girls' high school soccer, the chances go wasted far too often.
Not on Thursday afternoon. Woods Cross took advantage of two set pieces in the first half to score twice. The tallies were the difference in the game as the No. 3 ranked Wildcats held off No. 5-ranked Bountiful's furious comeback attempt in the second half for a 2-1 win.
"We practice our penalty kicks, free kicks and corner kicks for the last 20 minutes of practice every day," said Woods Cross forward Abby Robinson.
The practice paid off.
In the 14th minute of the contest Katie Beeton scored after Robinson sent a perfect corner kick to the middle. The ball floated over the keeper and the defense and landed right at the feet of Beeton just 6 yards out. She tapped the ball into the net for the early lead.
It was Robinson that capitalized on a free-kick later in the half. She was fouled 30 yards from the goal on the left-corner of the penalty box. She fired the ensuing kick toward the back post. "I thought it was going over (the bar) at first, but it just bent in to the back," said Robinson of the second score.
The Wildcats controlled the play for nearly the entire opening half. The team pushed forward over and over. The surge was coming from the players in the middle. Stopper Katie Beeton and midfielders Kassidy Christensen and Kimly Anderson were a solid nucleus that dominated the play.
"That trio in the middle, when they are on, no one is going to come through there," said coach Kevin Rigby.
He was right. At least for one half of play.
Bountiful came out the second half fired up. It was the Braves that were pressing forward and creating scoring chances. Chelsea Cox was making dangerous runs up the left wing, and Robyn Wall and Rebeca Schmidt were in the middle trying to finish after Cox would center the ball. But it was not until the 70th minute that the Braves were finally able to put one in the net.
Again, it came off a set-piece for the goal. It was a corner kick that enabled the Braves to draw closer. The ball was sent to the middle where a scramble ensued. Schmidt eventually found the ball at her feet and hammered it in. The Braves tried furiously for the remaining time to draw even but were unable to put one more in the goal.
"We're young, but the exciting thing is we keep getting better," said Rigby. "We played a nearly perfect half, and now we just need to put it all together."
The win keeps Woods Cross in a first-place tie with East in Region 5, while Bountiful is all alone in third place.
In other soccer action on Wednesday:
VIEWMONT 2, WEBER 1: First-half goals by Makell Hansen and Erin Dalley were enough to hold off Weber. Chelsea Hogge scored Weber's goal.
LAYTON 5, CLEARFIELD 1:Danielle Ramos notched the hat trick for Layton.
NORTHRIDGE 1, FREMONT 0:Kiersten Wood's goal in the fourth minute was the difference for Northridge.
BINGHAM 2, BRIGHTON 1:Jenni Wright fired in the game-winner for Bingham on a cross from Alyssa VanderVeur in the second half.
WEST JORDAN 2, COPPER HILLS 0: West Jordan's Amelia Tucker and Stefani Colunga scored one goal each in the shutout. Jenny Woodward earned the shutout as goalkeeper.
ALTA 7, HILLCREST 1:Katie Larkin and Hailey DeYoung combined for four goals, while the defense held its own against the Huskies.
JORDAN 3, RIVERTON 0: Jordan's trio of scorers, Lacey Christenson, Lindsay Jancki and Aubry Zitting, scored one each against Riverton. Kristen Sauer and Makela Ray split time in goal.
SKYLINE 9, GRANGER 0:Shannon Larsen scored a hat trick, and Kallie Wolfer added two goals for Skyline.
HUNTER 6, TAYLORSVILLE 1: Hunter's Melinda Gray and Jamie May scored two goals each.
COTTONWOOD 5, KEARNS 1:Megan Ohai had two goals as Cottonwood won its eighth-straight region match.
BOX ELDER 2, LOGAN 1 (2OT):Ashley Hyer nailed the golden goal four minutes into the second overtime to give the Bees the win.
BONNEVILLE 1, SKY VIEW 0: Bonneville's Jessie Baddley assisted Jessica Thompson for the lone goal.
MOUNTAIN CREST 6, ROY 1:Taylor Santora's goal in the 15th minute gave Roy an initial 1-0 lead, but the Mustangs stormed back with six goals. Kim Crosbie led Mountain Crest with three goals.
MURRAY 2, HIGHLAND 0:Brinna Bennion and Ellen Larsen each netted first-half goals as the Spartans improved to 5-8 in league play.
WEST 9, CYPRUS 0:Laurel Ghoshroy, Chloe Rose, and Ellie Bernick each scored two goals for the Panthers.
EAST 2, OLYMPUS 1 (OT):Kiersten Nilsson's scored a golden goal in the 85th minute as East remained atop Region 5.
PROVO 2, PAYSON 0:Cami Brimhall and Jana Davis each scored a goal for Provo, and Kristen Chambers earned the shutout.
SPRINGVILLE 3, AMERICAN FORK 0: Springville clinched Region 6 with the shutout behind goalkeepers Brittany Poulson and Hannah Filvey.
TIMPVIEW 5, SPANISH FORK 1:Candice Clark tallied two goals for the Thunderbirds.
MOUNTAIN VIEW 1, LONE PEAK 0: Mountain View netted the only goal of the game in the second half.
TIMPANOGOS 2, OREM 0: Timpanogos was paced by goals from Jennifer Nielsen and Stacey Bartholomew.
DELTA 3, NORTH SANPETE 2:Monica Christensen had two goals and Erin Topham added another for Delta.
LEHI 4, GRAND 0: Four players for Lehi and Beth Worthington earned the shutout as goalkeeper.
PINE VIEW 2, CANYON VIEW 0:Nicole Johnson and Lindsey Flake each scored goals as the Panthers remained undefeated.
DIXIE 4, SNOW CANYON 0:McCall Rynearson tallied two goals for the Flyers.
WASATCH 15, GRANITE 0:Debbie Spartie scored three for the Wasps as Carli Latimer and Becca Knapp split the shutout.
JUDGE MEMORIAL 9, UNION 0:Jenn Pentesco scored three goals as No. 1-ranked Judge ran its Region 10 unbeaten streak to 10 games this season.
PARK CITY 7, UINTAH 1: Park City's Kelly Islieb and Ellie Reid scored two each in a runaway win.
BEAR RIVER 4, GRANTSVILLE 0: The Bears scored four second-half goals to improve to 4-4 in league play.
OGDEN 2, BEN LOMOND 1:Cassie Batinich scored the game-winner in the final moments of the second-half.
ST. JOSEPH 3, SOUTH SUMMIT 2 (OT):Cierra Bauer netted a hat trick and scored the game-winning goal for St. Joseph. She scored the golden goal in overtime off an assist from Jena Lovato.
JUAN DIEGO 3, ROWLAND HALL 0:Kara Vitacca, Carly Kunz, and Jessica Bentrude each scored once for Juan Diego in the shutout.
WATERFORD 7, MILLARD 1: Nicole Taylor scored four goals for Waterford in a runaway win. Valerie Ortega scored Millard's lone goal.