Just a week ago, Bonneville suffered a surprising 3-1 defeat at the hands of 3A Ogden. Days before that, the Lakers fell to Skyline 5-2.
The string of losses was a disappointment for a squad that appeared in last year’s 5A state championship game and came into this season as the No. 1 ranked team in the classification.
Though they had lost a handful key players due to injury, it became apparent that the Lakers needed to rediscover their top-notch form if they hoped to eventually make an appearance in their second straight championship match.
But after a 1-0 road victory over an undefeated Woods Cross side Tuesday afternoon, it seems as though Bonneville is starting to find its stride once again. The result was the Lakers’ second straight shutout victory since they were defeated by Ogden last week.
Bonneville head coach Tyler Anderson said that the two losses completely changed the mentality and attitude of each player on his team.
“With Skyline being ranked No. 2 we expected a battle, but after the loss we thought, ‘That’s too bad. We’ll get the next one,’ but they (Bonneville) came out flat again (against Ogden),” Anderson said.
“The Ogden game is what woke them up. They were not happy with it. Their attitude changed at training, the way they focused on a game during bus rides, everything about them changed after that Ogden game. They weren’t satisfied and they were very bothered by that result.”
Heading into their first region game, it appeared that that irritation felt by the Lakers was channeled to create a staunch, defensive showing against a Wildcats team that hadn’t been shutout all year. Bonneville’s pressure and energy made it difficult for the Woods Cross attack to get many clean looks at goal.
Led by senior and team captain Gabby Carlson, the defense back line for the Lakers has been able to make key improvements over its past two games, according to Anderson. Carlson was all over the field defensively for Bonneville and was constantly vocal as she tried to keep her fellow defenders organized.
“Since the Skyline game, we made some changes and our defense cleaned things up and got these two shutouts,” Anderson said. “We’re led by Gabby. She understands how to play defense and she directs the entire field extremely well. She sees the game from the back better than many defenders do.”
Carlson and the rest of the Lakers defense needed to deliver a strong performance facing the Wildcats and senior forward Kate Howes, who came into Tuesday’s matchup as the fourth leading goal scorer in the 5A classification.
Not far behind Howes on the scoring list though was Bonneville’s prolific forward Sadie Beardall, who came into the game with eight goals to her name through the team’s first five games.
It was Beardall who ended up scoring the game’s only goal, as she sent header into the back of the net off a corner kick 19 minutes into the first half. The goal gave Beardall three scores in Bonneville’s last two games.
“Sadie is probably one of the biggest workhorses that there is the game,” Anderson said of his forward. “She gives everything and just leaves it all on the field. She has a lot of strength that allows her to battle through the bumps and grabs of defenders. She’s just a talented player with a sharp, keen awareness of where the goal is.”
The performance from Beardall and the Lakers in the first half was the key to winning the game, according to Anderson, as tactical changes in the second half from Woods Cross head coach Dave Newman made life much more difficult for a shorthanded Bonneville side that got noticeably fatigued towards the end of the game.
“The first half we pressured the ball, got there quick and we were then able to feed the ball into the proper lanes,” Anderson said. “I would say that the way we played the first half and how we attacked through those lanes was the key to winning the game.”
Despite the strong play in the first half, Anderson said that his team needs to do a better job at maintaining that level of play throughout the full 80 minutes.
Although the consistency varied at times throughout the game, Anderson still felt pleased that his team was able to secure the convincing win to open up play in Region 5 and improve to a 5-2 overall record.
“As a whole, in this league, any time you get a win it’s a good thing,” Anderson said. “This is a tough region and a lot of tough games, so to get one against Woods Cross when they’re undefeated is a very good thing.”