SALT LAKE CITY — In the battle of the two teams fighting to claim the Region 6 crown, Olympus defeated West 3-2 in a tough, physical game.
“I was proud of our composure. With a team like West that have so many talented players, you know they’re going to make runs at you. You know there are times where you’ve just got to bear down, keep your composure and take back control, and I thought we did that during the game,” Olympus head coach Chris Sonntag said.
Coming into Friday afternoon’s contest, Olympus’ game plan was to control the midfield, and that plan worked well as the Titans controlled possession in the first half, scoring three goals in the opening period of play. Alec Foulger scored a brace to lead Olympus.
“To stay in front of them and to take control of the midfield, that was the key. I’m not saying we controlled the midfield the whole game, but there were large parts of the game that we did. They did it, frankly, for the first 10-15 minutes, we were chasing them a little bit in the middle. I think, at least in my opinion, a good team is one that can weather those storms that come, and they did that,” Sonntag said.
Olympus struck first off of a corner kick just six minutes in as Lincoln Buchanon headed home his fourth goal of the season to give the visitors an early 1-0 lead. Just two minutes later, West’s Jesus Chavez was awarded a penalty. Chavez’s penalty kick was initially saved by Titans’ goalkeeper Ian Jones, but on the deflection, Chavez calmly headed the ball home to equalize the game.
From there, the rest of the first half was all Olympus. The Titans were able to control possession and be on the attack for most of the rest of the first half of play, and it paid off for them. In the 22nd minute, the Titans were awarded a penalty kick, and Foulger calmly put it to the left of West goalkeeper Erik Pena as Olympus regained the lead, 2-1. Foulger struck again in the 28th minute. After two deflections by West’s defense in the area, Foulger slotted it home in the bottom left corner once again to put the Titans up 3-1.
“That was awesome. Young guy that is very talented, plays on a high-level club team, but he just had it going today. His touch was phenomenal, and that’s what I noticed. He made correct runs, he won a lot of 50-50 balls, lots of them. When you send a ball to Alec, it’s going to drop right at his foot and be under control, and that’s just invaluable,” Sonntag said.
In the second half, West pushed forward, trying to get two goals to equalize the game. The Panthers got their second goal of the afternoon in the 58th minute, as Junior Espitia hit a free kick from 30 yards out that bounced over Jones and pulled West within just one goal.
The Panthers had a couple chances to tie the game but couldn’t quite find the back of the net for the equalizer. The best chance came in the 62nd minute, when Arturo Martin made a beautiful run in that culminated with him hitting the crossbar.
Olympus has just five games left in region play before the state tournament.
“More of the same. Maybe reining in on some of the free kicks we’re giving, because that’s really hurt us a little bit. We’ve only given up eight or nine goals, not very many. I think to go deep into the playoffs, which we plan and hope to do, you’ve got to have a defense that can step up and be intelligent and smart, make them work for it, but I think just as important as that is that you have a midfield that makes them work,” Sonntag said.
After a physical game, Sonntag and the Titans had nothing but respect for West.
“I think the world of their program and have known their coach for 16 years, he’s a terrific coach and we have the utmost respect for them,” Sonntag said.