OGDEN — The funny thing about soccer, or a not-so-funny thing, is how it can be equal parts cruel and rewarding.
It happens all the time. A team might take more shots, possess the ball more and look more deserving than the other, yet still walk away with a loss.
On the flip side, a team can be on its heels for what seems like hours yet somehow walk away victorious.
On a cold, sunny Wednesday, that dichotomy of soccer played out in a 4A boys soccer state playoff matchup between Ben Lomond and Snow Canyon.
“Definitely they were by far the better team in the first 25-30 minutes of that game,” Snow Canyon head coach Zach Hales said of the Scots.
Snow Canyon eventually beat Ben Lomond 2-1 on two opportunistic goals and great games from its defenders and goalkeeper Livan Huerta. There’s the rewarding part of soccer.
The Scots, who won a boys soccer region championship for the first time since 1991 and brought home the school’s first region title in anything since 2011, outshot the Warriors 15-6 and still lost. There’s the cruel part of soccer.
“It’s just a lot of thoughts going through my head. I don’t know where we went wrong, we played an awesome game. We all did our part,” Ben Lomond senior Ruben Soto said. “They capitalized on a last-minute goal and won it. It doesn’t end here though. We have a lot of talented players and just need to keep moving forward.”
The first Snow Canyon goal came in the 19th minute amid a barrage of Ben Lomond shots on Huerta’s goal.
The Warriors had a throw-in in Ben Lomond’s half of the field, the ball bounced off several legs in the penalty box and found its way to Luis Gamez 10 yards away from goal. Gamez promptly thumped the ball in for a goal.
Snow Canyon’s second goal came in the 78th minute on a 40-yard shot by defender Cole Warner. Warner normally scores goals with his head and had spent the previous 77-plus minutes blocking dozens of Ben Lomond shot and pass attempts.
“Fútbol is fútbol. This is one of those games that no matter how hard you fought, all it takes is the right shot at the right moment and the game is done. That’s the way fútbol goes,” Ben Lomond head coach William Echeverria said.
Had it not been for Huerta, Snow Canyon’s goalkeeper, the Scots may have led 4-0 in the first 16 minutes of the game. They started that well and looked that good.
Giovanni Martinez had a low header saved in the third minute. Javier Villegas tested Huerta from long distance.
Soto had a 1-on-1 chance with Huerta in the eighth minute after Rogelio Ceja’s fabulous pass over the top. Huerta blocked Soto’s shot.
Villegas’ scorching shot in the 12th minute was tipped over the crossbar. Soto’s low shot in the 16th minute was saved. Ceja had a chance in the 17th minute and that was, you guessed it, saved.
Hales credited the Warriors’ defenders and goalkeeper for keeping the game scoreless. When asked how the Warriors grabbed a win while Ben Lomond sent wave after wave of shots at Snow Canyon’s goal, he was unsure.
“If someone can find the secret formula to that, they need to give it to me because I honestly don’t know,” Hales said.
In a twist of irony, Hales said the Warriors had games this season where they’ve outshot the other team and lost. Wednesday was the opposite.
It didn’t take long for Ben Lomond to answer Gamez’s 19th-minute goal. Erik Arroyo was fouled inside the penalty box and Villegas smashed in the ensuing penalty kick to tie the game 1-1.
Where the Scots furnished many of their first-half chances with long balls over the top and good midfield play, SC pressured higher up the field and took time away from BL in the second half.
As the 1-1 game creeped closer to the end of regular time, there was a sense this game wasn’t headed for a penalty shootout.
Snow Canyon had a corner kick in the 78th minute that BL cleared away but it only went as far as Warner, who was standing 40 yards away from goal when he brought the ball down. Warner figured, why not have a shot?
It dipped under the crossbar, sparking a wild celebration on the Warriors’ bench.
Once again, the Scots weren’t finished and they nearly sent the game to extra time. Ceja had a close-range header he hit hard, but it went straight into Huerta’s arms.