The Grantsville boys soccer team got everything it wanted out of its season opener Monday afternoon against Payson — except for a victory.
Despite having just two players on the roster who had prior varsity playing experience in their starting positions, the Cowboys gave Class 4A Payson a run for its money in a hard-fought, 1-0 loss in Grantsville. For a team with a freshman goalkeeper and a completely new back line, it was an impressive debut.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do, but I’m really, really encouraged,” Grantsville coach Travis Lowry said. “All five of our back players, including our goalie, are new this year. We wanted to play against a big school and see how we would do.”
Seniors Dayne Linton and Ryan Tripp are Grantsville’s most experienced players, while junior Scott May has moved from goalkeeper to defense this season.
The Cowboys (0-1) had their fair share of opportunities against the Lions (1-0) in their first game. Grantsville senior Ryan Tripp had a hard shot from 30 yards out stopped by Payson goalkeeper Stockton Hyer in the 15th minute, just two minutes after Jose Garcia’s attempt from the left wing was saved. However, that seemed to wake the Lions up, as Andres Castano and Zach Robbins began to put pressure on Grantsville.
Eventually, Castano scored the game’s lone goal on a breakaway against Grantsville freshman goalkeeper Zach Carver, giving Payson a 1-0 advantage with 15 minutes left in the first half.
However, the Cowboys came right back with several chances of their own. Senior Dayne Linton had a good look at the goal but misfired in the 29th minute, and was flat-out robbed by Hyer on a shot from outside the 18-yard box as the Payson ‘keeper dove to his left and tipped the ball just over the crossbar.
“That was an amazing shot by Dayne — I didn’t think that goalie had it in him,” Lowry said. “I was like, ‘that was impressive.’”
Tripp had another shot stopped by Hyer seven minutes into the second half, and Garcia was stopped by Hyer in the 62nd minute. Meanwhile, the Grantsville defense continued to bend, but not break, as Castano put the pressure on the young Cowboys.
“This season and our future are very bright,” Lowry said. “If we can get in shape and work on a few things, we’ll be all right. Our bench was great. The kids who went in there are young, and I think they’re going to push some of the other guys and maybe get some more minutes.”
All things considered, it was a strong effort from a young team that has had just one week of practice, Lowry said. The Cowboys won’t have much opportunity to practice in the coming week, either, as they travel to West Valley City on Wednesday to face American Preparatory Academy-West Valley. On Friday, they will head to Utah County for a match against Merit Academy.
“It’s a busy week,” Lowry said. “We’ll get conditioned from playing games.”