On Aug. 17, Bonneville suffered a 3-1 defeat at home to crosstown rival Ogden. To say the Lakers took the loss hard would be an understatement.
Head coach Tyler Anderson even went as far to say that the players felt as bitter about the loss as they did their defeat in last season’s 5A championship game. The seniors and team captains met with the rest of the players to say that their performance against Ogden wasn’t going to cut it.
From that point on, however, things changed.
“They came out of that (players meeting) and everything changed,” Anderson said. “Their work rate at training, their focus and energy at games, the pace of their press, their connecting play, all of that changed. They just did not like that loss and after that point they’ve been committed.”
Following the Ogden match, the Lakers didn’t lose a single game for the rest of the season, clinching a Region 5 title and a spot as the No. 2 seed in the 5A state tournament.
In a quarterfinal matchup with Murray Thursday afternoon, Bonneville kept the fire ignited, securing a 1-0 victory and a matchup with Lehi in one of the 5A semifinal games. The win increased Bonneville’s win streak to 13 games.
A chippy, intense game throughout, it seemed fitting when the game’s only goal was a penalty kick goal by junior Sadie Beardall with only eight minutes left to play. The penalty kick was earned by Bonneville senior and team captain Gabby Carlson.
“Sadie came up to me (after earning the penalty kick) and she was so confident, so we trusted her to put it in,” Carlson said of the game-saving play. “I was like, ‘Sure Sadie, you take it,’ because when a player has that much confidence, you can’t help but trust her.”
The goal was Beardall’s 21st of the season, which leads the Lakers.
Despite the getting the late goal, Anderson said that he and his team came out of the game feeling lucky to be the ones advancing. From poorly missed chances on wide-open goals by Murray, to seeing the Spartans unfortunately lose their best central defender, Sailor Jensen, to a second yellow card with 18 minutes left in the game, the Lakers had their fair share of good breaks.
“I think we got lucky to scathe by with a win,” Anderson said. “I don’t think we were technically sound. Murray is strong, very good and they’ve got some amazing players. They’re definitely better than a typical 10-seed.”
Murray came into the quarterfinal match having won their first two tournament games by a combined score of 11-2. Lucky or not, the Lakers backline did a sufficient job in limiting Murray players like Sammie Sofonia and Karime Antonio, who had been stellar all year long.
Led by center backs Gracie East and Carlson as well as keeper Ellie Scholer, the Lakers racked up the eighth shutout of their 13-game winning streak by blanking Murray.
“Our entire back five and sometimes our back six were very solid for us today and they have been for most of the season,” Anderson said.
With competition getting more and more difficult with each round they advance, Anderson and Carlson both said that the Lakers have a lot of work to do if they hope to get past Lehi and get into a third-straight 5A championship game.
“As a team we have to be more composed,” Carlson said. “Going forward in the tournament we’ll get less and less (goal-scoring) opportunities. We have a lot of good competition ahead of us and we know that, so when we get chances we’ve got to put them in.”
Anderson said the Lakers have a lot of soccer to play before they can even begin to think about playing in yet another game at Rio Tinto.
“Lehi goes through their ups and downs, but at the very end they handed Timpanogos their only loss of the year,” Anderson said. “We’re going to have some trouble getting through them before we can even think about a championship game.”
The Lakers will face the Pioneers this upcoming Tuesday at Juan Diego High School at 5:30 p.m.