Things got a little bit more interesting in the Region 1 title race on Thursday.
With a 2-0 win over the Davis Darts at the Angel Street Soccer Complex, the Layton Lancers evened up the teams’ season series and now find themselves tied with Davis for the top spot in Region 1 with just two more region games to play.
Junior forward Erin Bailey scored the game’s only goals, and the Lancers picked up their fifth shutout of the season.
Facing a Davis squad that was undefeated through region play and had conceded only four goals all season — including a shutout win in double overtime over Layton just over three weeks ago — the Lancers knew going into the game that they had to find a way to score and score early, according to head coach Tara Ferrin.
“The goal was to get out early and push them to play from behind,” Ferrin said.
The Lancers did just that, as Bailey surged up the right side of the field, dribbling by a handful of Davis defenders, and eventually drew a penalty inside Davis’ 18-yard box just a few minutes into the match.
Bailey stepped up to take the penalty, which was initially saved by the Davis keeper, but the officials ruled that the keeper came off her line too early, which gave Bailey another crack at goal.
Bailey slotted home the second attempt to give the Lancers an early 1-0 advantage.
“We stepped up to the ball and put the pressure on Davis and that’s what got us the goal,” Ferrin said.
The goal put the Darts in fairly unfamiliar territory and gave Layton a cushion that it never had in the previous matchup between the two sides.
Then less than 10 minutes into the second half, the Lancers added some more padding to the cushion, as Reese Robinson delivered a perfectly weighted ball up to a streaking Bailey, who calmly passed the ball away from the keeper and into the right side of Davis’ goal to double Layton’s advantage.
Ferrin said she loved what she saw on the second goal, not only because it doubled her team’s lead, but also because it was a picturesque execution of a play her team had been working on.
“That second goal was perfect,” Ferrin said. “It was great because we had been practicing that play of a quick through ball and quick shot, and that’s exactly what they did.”
The goal gave Bailey a brace on the day and brought her goal total to team-high 21 on the season. Bailey had chances to potentially secure a hat trick throughout the remainder of the second half, but impressive saves from Davis’ keeper denied her the three-goal outing.
Ferrin was complimentary of the way her players built up plays and delivered Bailey the ball in scoring positions throughout Thursday’s match.
“That’s the key, for our team to build up and feed her some good balls,” Ferrin said. “Today they were giving her some really great balls for her to be able to take some great shots and make good runs. She has that ability to finish and these guys had the ability today to give her the ball where she needed to make those plays.”
The victory secured Layton the chance to control its own destiny. A win in the remaining two games for the Lancers will give them at least a share of the Region 1 title.
Despite the implications the game had, Ferrin said she hadn’t even looked at the region standings beforehand and doesn’t plan on looking at them throughout the remainder of the regular season, saying that she and her team plan to just focus on the games themselves and not the potential implications they carry.
“I knew Davis was undefeated (in region) coming into the match, but winning region isn’t our goal,” Ferrin said. “We would love to take region, but our focus is on our next game, not the region or anything else. We control our own destiny now, so it’s up to us to finish and not have this game be our best game of the season.”