OREM — Orem High School wasn't about to let region rival Mountain View beat it for a second time this season, especially on its own turf.
And its soccer team pulled out all the stops to ensure there was no way it would happen.
“No way we were going to let them win on our field. We hadn’t given up a goal on our home field all year — today was the first time and we gave up two. But this game was just too important to lose and did just enough,” senior midfielder Zach Wells said.
Facing a 2-1 deficit at the break, the Tigers regrouped and took control in the second half before using a late goal from Wells and their lockdown defense to escape with a 2-2 draw and gain one point in the standings Friday night.
“It was definitely circled on our calendar. They’re our rivals, but they’re also one point ahead of us in the standings. We really wanted three points to keep pace with them and Provo, but we’ll settle for one. I’m so pleased that our boys didn’t give up and came back with that equalizer,” Orem head coach Scott Wells said.
It didn't take long for Orem to get into an offensive rhythm as the Tigers easily penetrated the defense and found senior forward Chase Hermann, who then punched it into the net, to take a 1-0 lead just seven minutes in.
However, the quick score really seemed to wake up the Bruins as they quickly responded with two goals, one from junior defender Kade Hernandez and one from freshman forward Ben Ortiz, in just a 10-minute span to take a 2-1 edge at the break.
“The last time we played (Mountain View), it was the same score at halftime as it was today. We talked about that at the half and just said we were down 2-1 last time and we’re going to change the outcome of this game,” said coach Wells.
After quickly regrouping, the Tigers really came together in the second half as they controlled the tempo and pounded the ball deep into Mountain View territory.
Orem did a tremendous job of slowing down the Bruins' high-flying offensive attack, led by Ortiz and Cristobal Zamorano, which in turn led to some terrific offensive possessions and an impressive 11 shots on goal.
Then, after failing to convert on several chances at the net and time running out, Wells juked the defense, pulled up and fired a laser off the hands of Mountain View's goalkeeper and right into the back of the net in the 68th minute to tie things up at 2-2 and force overtime.
“I was just looking to rip it because I had all that open space. Their goalie hadn’t caught a ball all game, so I hit with some nice swerve on it and he couldn’t hold onto it. That game was just huge for us being so close in the standings,” Wells said.
Orem continued to dominate the time of possession and produced a plethora of shots on goal, all of which just missed, in both OTs to wear down the visitors.
Meanwhile, despite taking a beating, the Bruins' offense made a couple of final pushes at the net down the stretch but couldn't quite get over the hump as both keepers refused to bend and the match ended in a hard-fought 2-2 draw.
Orem has now won six of its last nine games with just one loss (Mountain View) and three straight ties, which coach Wells views as positive things rather than negative.
“We have given up some silly goals, and that’s what happened here again today, except we didn’t give up. So that’s why I’m really proud of them. They knew inside they have what it takes to pull these kinds of games out and that they could do this. I’m so proud of them — they believed it and they did it. They’re a very mature team,” he said.
Ryan Love is a full-time student and has been a part-time sportswriter for Deseret News since October 2012.
Follow him on Twitter @RLove7724