Through the first 39 minutes of Monday’s rivalry game at Tooele High School, the Stansbury and Tooele boys soccer teams were locked in a scoreless, heated battle.
However, a mistake by the Tooele defense just before halftime allowed Stansbury to take a 1-0 lead, and the Stallions added a second goal four minutes into the second half that had the THS bench pleading for an offside call that never came. That short span of time completely shifted the momentum, and sparked Stansbury to a 4-0 win.
“We started winning the 50-50 ball,” Stansbury coach Jacob Jones said. “We didn’t do that at all and Tooele did a great job the first half winning those balls and making it really tough on us.”
For much of the first half, Tooele (1-6, 0-5 Region 11) held Stansbury (2-5, 2-3) at bay, and actually had the advantage in terms of time of possession. But a costly turnover in front of their own goal late in the first half cost the Buffaloes dearly, as Israel Jones corralled a loose ball and put it past Tooele goalkeeper Porter Staten for a 1-0 Stansbury lead.
“We got lucky to get that one goal in the first half instead of being down one,” Jacob Jones said. “That helped a little bit mentally going into the second half. We had a nice, long talk about 50-50 balls and how we had to win them.”
Early in the second half, the Buffs had a chance to tie the game on a set piece, only to have it knocked away, though Tooele thought it deserved a penalty kick after a Stansbury defender hit the ball with his hand, but it went undetected by the referee. Moments later, Jones struck for his second goal of the afternoon, putting Stansbury ahead 2-0 in the 44th minute.
“Football can be a cruel game, can’t it? That was definitely a cruel game,” Tooele coach Stephen Duggan said. “If anything, I thought we were the better team in the first half. The first goal was a terrible mistake by us and they capitalized on it. The second goal was offside — I don’t know how (the referee) doesn’t call it offside. Even ‘Izzy,’ who scored the goal, he looks across and he’s shocked that he’s still onside.”
Israel Jones’ two quick goals gave the Stallions all the breathing room they needed, and seemed to take the wind out of Tooele’s sails. Stansbury had several chances to add to its lead as the game went on, and was rewarded on a pair of corner kicks in the waning minutes as Kade Littlefield scored two goals in a three-minute span.
The victory sets up a huge game for the Stallions on Wednesday, when they play host to Ogden. A win would put Stansbury at .500 in Region 11 play and keep them right in the thick of the race for a state tournament berth.
“That’s a season-turner right there for us,” Jacob Jones said.
Tooele plays host to Ogden on Friday and is in desperate need of a victory after losing six straight matches overall and five straight in region play.
“Four-nil doesn’t reflect the game,” Duggan said. “We just didn’t get any luck in front of the goal today and no luck with the calls on the field. The performance wasn’t bad, but sometimes the scoreline doesn’t reflect the game. We couldn’t buy luck today.”