The Stansbury girls soccer team has had its ups and downs this season, but the Stallions appear to be peaking at the right time.
With just one game remaining in the regular season, the Stallions picked up their fourth consecutive win Wednesday night at Stallion Stadium, handing county rival Tooele a 4-1 defeat. The victory moves Stansbury (10-5, 8-3 Region 10) within a game of Cedar Valley for second place in Region 10.
“I’m just proud of the girls,” Stansbury coach Spencer Call said. “They battled so hard. I think we had 18 or 19 girls get in and they gave it 110%. My hat’s off to Tooele — they’ve got a great team and great coaches.”
The visiting Buffaloes (2-13, 0-11) started the match off strong, as junior Cecily Wolfe put a shot into the side netting off a flip throw-in from Alyssa Murray in the eighth minute. Tooele got a decent amount of possession in the attacking half of the field, but was unable to convert.
“I feel like for the first 20 minutes, we were on top,” Tooele coach Stephen Duggan said. “I thought we were down in their half a lot more.”
However, Stansbury got the bounce it was looking for in the 21st minute. Bailey Thomas took control of the ball on the left wing, just outside the top of the 18-yard box. As she put the ball on goal, using a pair of Tooele defenders as a screen, Stallions senior Reagen Didericksen sprinted toward the front of the goal. Didericksen deflected Thomas’ shot into the net before Tooele goalkeeper Britain Stone could get a hand on it, putting the Stallions up 1-0.
Just over seven minutes later, a misplay in the midfield proved costly for Tooele. The Buffs didn’t get the ball as deep as they would have liked, allowing Stansbury to take control and push the ball toward the Tooele goal. This time, it was Didericksen who found Thomas driving toward the front of the net, and Thomas tapped in a slow roller for a 2-0 lead.
“That second goal was critical,” Call said.
With a two-goal lead, the Stallions had to be cautious, knowing that Tooele could create momentum if it got the next goal. The teams played mostly even for the first 15 minutes of the second half, but Stansbury essentially put the game away on Nahui Pankratz’s goal in the 56th minute off a corner kick.
“Once Nahui slipped that one past, it was big,” Call said. “Nahui’s been on fire the past three or four games, and she’s just finding the back of the net and finding assists. Once that went in, it was done. I could breathe a little easier once we got that third goal.”
Duggan said Pankratz’s goal was the product of a missed header by the Buffs’ defense, and he could sense that giving up a third goal deflated his team.
“That third goal seals it in so many ways,” Duggan said. “It was a good game. The girls played well and they represented well — just a couple of mistakes at crucial times that we shouldn’t have made. We missed a header and we should have cleared that, and it should have never gone to 3-nil.”
Despite a rough 10-minute stretch in which the Stallions threatened to turn the game into a blowout, the Buffaloes regained their composure late and started to turn things around. Their hard work was rewarded when Stansbury committed a foul just outside the 18-yard box, and Wolfe converted on the ensuing free kick to cut the Stallions’ advantage to 3-1 with 11:23 left in the contest.
That was all the Buffs could muster, though, even as they pushed everyone forward in an effort to put even more pressure on the Stallions. Didericksen nearly scored in the 75th minute on a nice individual effort from the right wing, but didn’t get her shot off cleanly. With nine seconds left, she made no mistake, converting on a partial break for her second goal of the evening and seventh of the season.
Afterward, Didericksen was among eight seniors honored following the Stallions’ final regular-season home game, along with Makenzie Matkin, Elyssia Harris, Marissa Durrant, Samantha Coleman, Mallory Clark, Sone Osborn and Sebrina Brown.
“I’m really proud of my seniors,” Call said. “They played four years and they never lost to Tooele, and that’s something they take pride in.”
Stansbury will wrap up its regular season Monday in Draper against Juan Diego. Tooele will play host to Ben Lomond in its home finale.
“We’re not the bottom-of-the-table team that people portray us as,” Duggan said. “We’re not a million miles away. The girls will keep going, they’ll keep fighting and they’ll keep believing. I’d really love to see them finish with a region win. They certainly don’t deserve to be sitting without a region win.”