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High school soccer: Early tally pushes Olympus past region foe Brighton in 5A quarterfinals

Brighton’s goalie Haley Munson stops Olympus from scoring during the 5A high school girls soccer state quarterfinals at Olympus High School in Holladay on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020.
Brighton’s goalie Haley Munson stops Olympus from scoring during the 5A high school girls soccer state quarterfinals at Olympus High School in Holladay on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020.
Laura Seitz, Deseret News

HOLLADAY — The Olympus and Brighton girls soccer teams are familiar foes, having split their Region 6 outings this season. That meant Thursday’s battle would give one team bragging rights and, more importantly, keep them rolling in the 5A playoffs.

The game didn’t disappoint as both squads had opportunities and misses over the 80 minutes. In the end, it was Olympus’ early goal in the sixth minute of play that proved the difference.

“Scoring early, for any team, helps set the tone and gets your energy up,” said Titan Kelly Bullock.

It was Bullock who took a pass from Emma Neff and made a great move to get around the Bengal defense before booting in the lone goal. Olympus looked as though it was going to dominate the game after controlling the first 20 minutes of play with an aggressive offensive attack.

“We’ve got an amazing front five who can get behind the defense quick, and they got us on the board early,” said Olympus coach Jamie Evans.

But the momentum evened out around the 20-minute mark after a 50-50 challenge had both benches erupting for different reasons. It proved the boost Brighton needed.

“At the beginning, we didn’t match their energy and were a bit unorganized in the back,” said Brighton coach Sara Cowley. “As they did, as good teams do, they capitalized on those things. But you have a choice to surrender or fight after you get behind, and our girls fought and held on to that one goal.”

Brighton put together some good runs in the latter part of the half with the best chances coming on back-to-back corners with around 14 minutes left to play. But even with the corners coming from opposite sides of the field, Olympus’ defense had an answer for both efforts, including goalkeeper Callie Droitsch snagging a rocketed kick off a couple ricochets from the second corner.

Droitsch continued to make strong plays over the rest of the game to record the shutout. Both teams put together nail-biter moments for the crowd over the final 40 minutes, which included some hard fouls and as soccer goes, misses by a few inches and feet to keep the score at 1-0.

“I absolutely would not expect anything different at this point in the playoffs,” said Evans about the game. “You have great opponents throughout and Brighton is one we know is a great opponent from our region. We just have to keep playing Olympus soccer.”

The familiarity of a region foe is one Olympus will experience for a third-straight playoff game on Oct. 20 as it will face off against Murray, which upset top-seeded Viewmont Thursday. Olympus squeaked out wins against the Spartans in both regular-season games, but Evans admitted it’s tough to play any team three times.