The Stansbury girls soccer team has shown a flair for the dramatic this season, with five of its games requiring extra time beyond the 80 minutes of regulation.
For the fourth time in those five trips to golden-goal overtime, Stansbury came away with the victory on Monday night in Draper. Reagen Didericksen’s tally just 39 seconds into the extra period lifted the Stallions to a 2-1 win over Juan Diego, giving Stansbury a share of second place in Region 10.
“I’m really proud of the girls for battling back and not giving up,” Stansbury coach Spencer Call said.
Didericksen fired the game-winning goal home from the right wing after Sebrina Brown found her wide open with a well-placed pass. Juan Diego was caught out of position defensively, leaving Didericksen with an open net. She hit the target as the Soaring Eagle’s goalkeeper tried desperately to get back in time, and the Stansbury team raced down the sideline to celebrate.
“It was Sebrina’s great ball,” Didericksen said. “It gives us motivation, so I think it’s really important that we got a win.”
As thrilling as the finish was, things couldn’t have gone much worse for Stansbury (11-5, 9-3 Region 10) in the first half. Juan Diego’s Sammy Herrera gave the Soaring Eagle (8-9, 6-6) a 1-0 lead less than three minutes into the contest on a nice give-and-go, and the Stallions were on their heels for much of the rest of the half. Juan Diego had several wide-open opportunities to score, but their shots sailed off-target to keep Stansbury’s hopes alive. Stansbury goalkeeper Ainsley Thurber also made a key save on a header by Juan Diego’s Kate Digiandomenico to preserve the one-goal deficit.
“That was about as bad a first half as we’ve played all year,” Call said. “To come back and play a great second half like that and just battle and battle — you could tell the tenacity was completely different in the second half. We were aggressive, we went to the ball, we were creating chance after chance after chance, and eventually it went in.”
Stansbury came out rejuvenated in the second half, putting pressure on Juan Diego’s backline and goalkeeper Olivia Meredith right from the opening whistle. The Stallions were rewarded in the 59th minute when Alexis Hatch converted on a free kick, curving the ball just inside the left post from 20 yards out to pull Stansbury even.
“We just had to get into a better mindset,” Didericksen said. “We still had 40 minutes left and we couldn’t get in our heads.”
Juan Diego had a pair of chances to pull ahead in the waning minutes of regulation, but Thurber and the Stallions’ defense were up to the task. Thurber made a save on Herrera in the 75th minute, and Hailey Mezenen had a glorious chance right in front of the goal in the 76th minute that was turned away.
“It would have been real easy to just give up and be satisfied with a 10-win season and going to state that way, but it’s nice to keep that momentum going,” Call said. “The girls really believe in themselves and we’re ready for the playoffs.”
The victory was Stansbury’s fifth in a row. It was also the second time in a week that the Stallions came from behind in the second half to win in overtime, as they erased a two-goal deficit in a 3-2 win over Cedar Valley on Sept. 28.
The Stallions will await the release of the Class 4A state tournament bracket, with the Utah High School Activities Association set to announce the final Ratings Percentage Index rankings at 9 a.m. Wednesday. Stansbury is likely to receive a bye into the second round, and could also earn the right to host a second-round game on Oct. 14.