In a Region 11 soccer battle with second place on the line, the Bear River Bears held strong defensively for a 2-0 win against the Stansbury Stallions.
Jeremy Alverson, head coach of the Stallions, knew going into the contest that it would be difficult to score goals against the Bears, and that proved to be the case in Tuesday’s game.
But thanks to several saves from sophomore goalkeeper Natalie Memmott, the Stallions had their chances for a win. However, after a scoreless first half, the Bears struck for two goals in the second half to solidify their spot in second place, which guaranteed the Stallions will have to play on the road in southern Utah for the first round of the state tournament next week.
Stansbury’s defense held off the Bears’ attack in the first half with all defenders getting involved in plays. The Stallions started the game with Erika Lakin, Lexi Golden, Savanna Jones and Amber Spaulding on the back line to accompany Memmott in goal.
Golden made the first highlight defensive play in the middle of the first half when she sprinted next to a Bear River player on a potential breakaway. Golden kept pace and cut off the Bear forward to clear the ball away out-of-bounds.
Memmott then had back-to-back stops near the end of the first half. A high shot came, and Memmott reached her hands into the air to stop the ball from sneaking into the net. She followed that save with another at close range, sending the two teams into halftime scoreless.
The Bears continued their attack in the second half, but Memmott kept her gloves up. A cross came over from the right side and connected with the foot of a Bear for a potential goal, but Memmott saved the ball from going in to keep the game scoreless.
Finally, the Bears broke through the Stansbury defense after controlling time-of-possession for most of the game. The ball went into the net for a 1-0 Bear River lead.
Stansbury changed its formation following the goal so that it could try to score the equalizer, and Memmott kept making big saves to give the offense a chance. Bear River had another breakaway chance, but Memmott came out to meet the forward head on. She kicked the ball out of the box to keep the score at 1-0. Just before the Bears scored their second goal, Memmott notched a save to her left and deflected the ball into the air and caught it.
But, toward the end of the game, the Bears’ control of possession eventually weighed on the Stansbury defense, giving way to the second goal and eventual 2-0 final score.
Alverson said Memmott has been on a roll lately and is figuring out how to play well at goalkeeper.
“She kind of came in at the first of this season and was getting some keeper training and just grew into the position,” Alverson said. “She’s coming off of her line well. She made five or six saves that were just crucial for us to keep it as close as it was and give us a chance to maybe get that equalizer.”
Once Stansbury switched to an offensive formation after the first Bear River goal, there were chances to even the score while trailing 1-0. Cierra Golden lined up for a free kick and sent the ball high toward the goal. The ball sailed down toward the net and bounced off the top post, just missing the equalizing goal. Bret Wilkinson then had a breakaway chance on offense, but she was called offside, moving past the Bear River defender just a little too early.
The game on Thursday against Tooele will not change anything for the Stallions in the standings — win or lose. They’ll finish in third place no matter the result, but the game is still a rivalry contest, and Alverson knows it’ll still be a tough battle.
They know us well, and we know them well,” Alverson said of the Lady Buffaloes. “That one’s going to come down to which team really wants to win it more. We were fortunate we got them the first time, so they’re going to want to try to get us back.”