Five yellow cards were earned in a fierce battle between girls who once played on the same competition league soccer teams. But in double overtime Mackenzie Landward locked in on goal in the final half-minute to secure the Stallion win over Tooele.
Landward, an SHS junior, secured a hat trick, to boot.
After the first half of the Tooele versus Stansbury soccer game was a scoreless battle, the second half was a tie, but the overtimes were intense as only one team could win.
SHS coach Jeremy Alverson said it was “one of the best games I’ve been involved with as a coach at Stansbury, obviously, with us coming out on the winning end. Regardless of that, it was just a really great game for both schools.”
Buff coach Stephen Duggan felt his team had dominated in time of possession and attempts on goal, but he said his team was unable to convert and made mistakes at crucial times that cost the team the win.
In addition, two of Tooele’s top players, Maddy Tate and McKenna Banks were injured — Tate in warmups and Banks in the early part of the second half. Tate’s injury turned out to be an upper ankle injury and Banks is a season-stopping torn anterior cruciate ligament in her knee.
At the top of the second half, Landward was the first player to hit the back of the net. Stansbury’s McCall Littlefield kicked the ball to the left side of the net where THS goalie Kate Michael dove toward the post to secure the ball. However, the ball came out of Michael’s grasp and Landward aimed a kick to the right for a score.
With about 25 minutes left in second half play, SHS senior Ashlynd May was assessed a yellow card for an illegal slide tackle. As a result, Tooele’s senior Sydney Russell was given a penalty kick. Russell capitalized, punching the punt over the head and out of the reach of SHS goalie Kirsten Gaillard to even the score1-1.
Following the penalty kick, the referees carded the second player, this time Tooele’s Emily Webber.
The Buffs again threatened on goal. Not long after that, a third yellow card was assessed to Stansbury’s Sammy Howa. And Stansbury and Tooele each had yet one more yellow card on the evening.
With just over 17 minutes left in the half, both Abby Webber and Landward were fighting for the ball near the net on the Tooele side, when Landward saw her opportunity. She stole the ball from Abby Webber and directed her kick at the top corner of the net, out of Michael’s reach, for a 2-1 Stansbury lead.
Tooele’s Emily Webber created an opportunityfor another THS goal, and signed her name on a ball to the right side of the net to even it up 2-2. Emily was shooting from the left goal post under a tight Stansbury defense, and her shot was far out of reach of goalie Gaillard, who had come up on the ball just before the ball was fired.
Before the end of regulation play, THS forward Russell again looked poised to score her second goal of the night, but Gaillard was able to run up for a save on goal. Before the regulation time ran out, THS had two corner kicks and Russell made another attempt to strike on goal, but it landed high and right. The fight would continue in overtime.
In a steady drizzle, the girls took the field to battle on. Several players slipped in the attempt to gain ground. Tooele had three consecutive corner kicks and dominated in the first overtime.
MaKenna McCloy had a good look and squared up for a kick, but it landed too far right of the net.
The clock was reset for the second overtime. Tooele continued with three more corner kicks, but could not capitalize on any. With seconds left on the clock, Landward maintained poise and focus.
Stansbury wing Reagan Didericksen moved the ball down the sideline and fed the ball to Landward in the final minute of play. Landward made her way to midfield for the feed. But when Didericksen crossed, the ball was a little long.
Landward stretched for the ball and made contact, hooking it to the bottom right side of the net for the victory.
“That was like the craziest thing,” Landward said of the final tally. “I knew that I needed to try to get to a position where she could cross, hopefully that last chance at a goal. And then she crossed it, and she was a little far, but I knew that if I kind of lunged toward it I’d be able to get there. So I threw my foot out there, got contact with the ball and shot it into the bottom right corner.”
Alverson said that Landward is “a tough one to defend. She’s got such a quick and accurate shot. You give her a little bit of time and she’s usually able to find the back of the net.”
Of her experience playing on the same team with some of the THS soccer players, Landward said she is close to some of them and that it is fun to play against them in the SHS/THS matches, “but at the same time it is really stressful knowing that I’ve played on the same team as them, as well.”
Duggan said his team will be brushing off the loss and returning to play in an effort to secure a state bid.
“The season is far from over,” he said.
“Both teams deserved to win and neither team really deserved to lose,” Alverson added. “It was a really balanced game.”