SYRACUSE — For 93 minutes Tuesday afternoon at Syracuse High School, the host Titans and the visiting Layton Lancers put on an amazing show.
There were unbelievable goals and even better defensive plays. There were massive swings in momentum and physical altercations.
The contest had the feel of a playoff game, almost as if the state championship was on the line.
It was all rather fitting.
The Titans and the Lancers were both undefeated in Region 1 heading into Tuesday’s match. Both teams were considered to be among the best girls soccer teams in 6A and both were state semifinalists a year ago (Syracuse lost to American Fork in the 6A title game, the same team that eliminated Layton in the semis).
Above all else, a victory Tuesday promised to give either side a decided advantage in the race for the region title.
Thanks in no small part to Adriana Owen, it was the Titans that came away with the victory.
Syracuse defeated Layton 3-2 in double overtime, powered by Owen. The senior recorded a hat trick, matching her goal output from the team’s previous eight contests in one impressive outing.
“Adriana was huge today,” Syracuse head coach Taylor Allen said. “To have her step up like that and have a hat trick ... This was a huge win. You have to get three points at home. It was huge for the playoff race and for defending the region title. That game just had a playoff feel to it.”
That fact was evident from the outset. From the opening whistle the teams were locked in a dead heat, neither able to impose their will on the other.
In fact, it wasn’t until the 33rd-minute mark of the first half that a side — Syracuse — was able to find the back of the net.
On that occasion, it was 2017 6A MVP Caroline Stringfellow who combined with Owen for the score. Stringfellow’s through-pass found Owen open on the left side of the box, and the senior calmly sent the ball just to the left of Layton goalie Meg Edwards and into the back of the net.
The Lancers were quick to answer, undeterred by the setback.
Less than two minutes later Layton was awarded a free kick, which senior Kinlee McMillan took. Her kick, a particularly powerful one, found the head of teammate Atley Thompson and immediately after, nylon.
The Titans would go on to retake the lead, just seconds before the end of the half, when Owen again beat Edwards, thanks in part to a fortuitous bounce of the ball.
The second half brought with it an entirely different Lancers’ team, one that had the Titans on their heels.
Led by Brynlee Roberts, Layton attacked, attacked and attacked, outracing the Titans down the field time and again.
It was Roberts who knotted the game at two goals apiece, with a shot in the 52nd minute that soared just over the fingers of Syracuse goalie Brooklyn Stringfellow.
“We knew they were good and we knew that they wanted to play over the top,” Allen said. “We call it ‘five in.’ They bring five players in their attack and just sprint past you. They got us twice with that.”
It would have been three times if not for the effort of defensive back Porter Brown.
In the middle of the first overtime period Layton freshman Erin Bailey appeared to have a shot on an empty net, after outrunning the Syracuse defense, but Brown was somehow able to get back into the play, corral the ball and preserve the tie.
That play, among others, helped the Titans survive until their game-winner.
That score came with just three minutes gone by in the second overtime. Sarah Wynn connected with Owen, her pass finding the senior in the box, and once again Owen made good on a shot attempt.
“Heads up to Sarah to give that up,” Allen said. “She could have tried to get a shot on Meg (Edwards), but didn’t. That was just an awesome play.”
“Someone had to win that game,” Allen continued. “At the end it was about who wanted it the most and they went out and got it.”