The Stansbury girls soccer team felt a little underestimated coming into Wednesday’s second-round Class 4A state tournament game against Hurricane, despite earning the right to host the contest.
The ninth-ranked Tigers had scored a dozen more goals than the eighth-ranked Stallions through the same number of games, and they had finished third in one of the state’s most loaded regions behind loaded teams from Desert Hills and Snow Canyon. Meanwhile, Stansbury struggled to score at times, and was third in a weaker Region 10.
Nobody will underestimate the Stallions anymore after a 2-0 win over the Tigers propelled them into Saturday’s state quarterfinals. Bailey Thomas and Annie Ploehn each had a goal, and the Stansbury defense and goalkeeper Ainsley Thurber kept Hurricane from finding the back of the net.
“I’m just so proud of the girls,” Call said. “No one believed in us and no one thought we could win this game. We came through and we did it when it counted. They did everything we asked of them, tenfold.”
Hurricane (9-7-1) had most of the possession in the match, but never had a truly dangerous scoring opportunity despite boasting two of Class 4A’s top goal scorers in Madelyn Hatch (12 goals) and Mylee Moon (seven goals). While Thurber was busy at times, the vast majority of her saves were of the routine variety — something she credited to the defense in front of her.
“It was really down to my defense,” Thurber said. “They knew the girls to mark up and how I like them to defend, and it was one of the best games I’ve ever seen them play. As soon as we picked up our communication, and we started reading their plays and knowing more and more what they do and each player’s style, the easier it got.”
The Tigers applied pressure early, as Aydan Wheeler and Lydia Prince had scoring opportunities they weren’t able to convert. However, in the 35th minute, Stansbury (9-5-3) didn’t miss. After Thomas drew a foul near the top of the 18-yard box, senior Chloee Corbett lined up a free kick. Her attempt deflected off the crossbar, but Thomas was there to head it in for a 1-0 lead.
Hatch nearly tied the game for the Tigers just before halftime, but her shot from the left wing glanced off the right goal post. Six minutes into the second half, she had a partial break, but Thurber came up with a save to keep the Stallions in front.
Mere seconds later, Ploehn doubled Stansbury’s lead after Samantha Coleman headed the ball across the front of the goal. Ploehn one-touched the ball into the right side of the net from the left wing, allowing Thurber to relax a little bit with a two-goal advantage.
“I definitely took a sigh of relief and (it took) a weight off my chest,” Thurber said. “I just felt like, ‘it’s OK if one goes in. I don’t need to be stressed and I can play my game.’”
Call, on the other hand, was still nervous until the final whistle blew. Hurricane kept the pressure on, and Stansbury’s Reagen Didericksen and Gracey Hinton nearly made it 3-0 on the other end as the Stallions took advantage of the Tigers’ need to push everyone forward. Despite the game’s pace, the Stallions’ defense never faltered.
“Our defense did what they’ve done all year,” Call said. “They just played really, really well. They didn’t break. They’re just stalwarts. They played amazing all game. Words can’t describe how proud of them I am.”
Stansbury will face a difficult task on Saturday at 1 p.m. against top-ranked Ogden. The Tigers (15-2) defeated No. 16 Mountain Crest 4-1 on Wednesday, and they’ve already beaten the Stallions twice this season by a combined score of 9-1.
“Our girls are ready for it,” Call said. “Ogden’s the No. 1 seed for a reason, but we like our chances going up there. (Wednesday) was one of the biggest wins in program history, and we’re excited to move on to the quarterfinals. It’s survive and advance.”
Saturday’s match will take place at the Spence Eccles Ogden Community Sports Complex, located at 1950 Monroe Blvd. in Ogden.