With an early-season lead in Region 11 on the line, Stansbury’s Junior Calderon delivered a golden goal in overtime for the win.
Eighty minutes of regulation time were not enough to figure out a winner between the Stansbury Stallions (2-0 in Region 11) and Grantsville Cowboys (1-1 in Region 11), but even 30 minutes of overtime were cutting it too close.
In the final minute of the second overtime period, Calderon emerged as the hero with the score tied at 1. In the midst of a pile of players down near the goal line, Calderon poked the ball toward the net. It got past Grantsville goalkeeper Parker May for the score — a golden goal to give Stansbury a 2-1 win. Calderon ran to the corner flag in celebration and was followed by his Stallion teammates.
“We have a lot of good players,” said SHS coach Brandon Andersen. “The players work really hard on a daily basis at practice and on the pitch. We have a lot of really technical-sound players and a lot of good, talented kids from start to finish, from our youth to our older seniors.”
Andersen said he and the Stansbury players knew Grantsville improved to a high level this season, and they expected a good game.
“Kudos to Grantsville,” Andersen said. “I knew, and the team knew, that they were going to come out, be physical and try to win. They had their (region) opener win, so they needed this win to try and take our crowning. So we knew it was going to be tough. We knew it was going to be physical.”
The Cowboys also knew that this was their biggest game of the season to this point. They knew that any chance at a region championship went through Stansbury.
“It’s sad that we had to take a loss today, but I think the boys are on track even with the loss,” said GHS coach Travis Lowry. “I think we’ll be OK. Stansbury is the best team in region, in my opinion.”
Lowry said he’s proud of his players and appreciated their effort against the talented Stallions.
“The positive, I saw three or four young men grow up,” Lowry said. “They became varsity soccer players today. I’ve been waiting for them to realize they could do it. It’s just really fun that they did it in the biggest game we’ve had so far.”
Both teams went into halftime scoreless, but from the number of shots taken and the excitement level by both the Stansbury and Grantsville fans, it seemed like more. Andersen said the field conditions may have played a part in the low score.
“If you look at the shot ratio, we had a lot of shots,” Andersen said. “Our own players agree: Our home field gives us problems because it’s so pot-holed and sort of raggedy that when we play on a smooth pitch we’re able to get those shots off cleanly. Here you have no idea what that ball is going to do. It hits the ground and takes off one way. The next time it will hit the ground and take off the other way. The field bothers us a little bit because we know it has those problems, and we don’t have a smooth enough surface that we can let those balls be on frame with a solid shot. You have to take 800 to score two.”
The high volume of shots created opportunities for Grantsville’s May to grab a high number of saves. Stansbury increased its offensive pressure in the second half when the two teams were held scoreless in the first half. And that put extra pressure on May.
“He’s a very quality keeper,” Lowry said. “We’ve been excited about him for years.”
Stansbury’s Tyler Williams attempted a bicycle kick that landed safely in the arms of May. That led to more chances, highlighted by Stansbury’s Ian Thompson grabbing possession following a Grantsville corner kick at the other end.
Thompson took the ball coast-to-coast and attempted a shot that ended up in the hands of May. Nathan Johansen then had a chance at an empty net goal when May had to come up to try and stop the forward momentum of the breakaway. However, the ball trickled away to the right on the shot.
Finally, Caden Clements broke through with the game’s first goal. He took a swing with his legs and slid to the ground on a shot with a defender in his face. The shot landed safely on the left to give Stansbury a 1-0 lead.
Grantsville responded late in the second half with a goal by Wesley Allen. Jesse Lynn lined up for a corner kick and delivered it right to the head of Allen, who knocked it in for the equalizer.
Stansbury had one more chance before the end of the second half on a corner kick, but May grabbed the header shot, sending the game into overtime.
Grantsville next plays Tuesday, April 1 in a home game against Ben Lomond. Stansbury also plays at home in its next game, which is Tuesday, April 1 against Bear River.