LAYTON — A late-night high school soccer game in early May generated memories of time-past chilly Saturday morning gatherings held behind elementary schools when the boys were younger.
The incandescent lights didn’t warm the souls or the soles of those fans in attendance on Layton senior night at Lancer Stadium, but the outcome did for the home team.
On the field, Layton kept pace in the Region 1 title race, scoring a goal late in the second half to nip Fremont 1-0 on Thursday.
Junior Gardner Francis came off the sidelines as a sub and netted the only score of the game, slipping one just inside the left pipe in the 63rd minute.
“Our midfielder, Dallin Smith, sent in a really good cross with some curve on it and I made my diagonal run across the back line and was able to get a good first touch on it and bury it,” Francis said. “Their goalie is left handed and left footed so I targeted his left side so he wouldn’t be able to dive as well.”
With a scoreless first half, the stakes got higher as the game moved deep into the second stanza.
“There was a lot of pressure being that it was our senior night; a lot of people came out to watch us and it was a really important game in our season,” Francis said.
“I broke my collarbone a couple of games back and they weren’t sure I was going to be able to play, so the fact that I could get in here and score a goal for our team is pretty awesome and unexpected. They put me in and I told them I could work some magic and I was able to do it.”
Layton (12-1-1, 9-1 Region 1) swept the season series over the Silverwolves, but Thursday was much tighter than a 4-0 win earlier this year.
“I think we’re confident in our team; we wanted to give our seniors a chance to perform. It was their game to win,” Layton co-coach Derek Amano said. “They came out and brought the energy, we made a couple of adjustments and some guys stepped up and we were able to get that goal.”
The Lancers notched their eighth shutout of the year, using seniors Lance Ferrin and Josh Stucki in goal for one half each to combine for the clean sheet.
“It really starts with the whole team; we do try to press everyone back, keep everyone in front of us in our half,” Layton co-coach Rick Talamantez said. “We have good maturity with Takum (Hepworth) and Jerek (Player), our two center backs who head up the line.”
Fremont (5-10-1, 4-6) lost for the sixth time by shutout this season and had a few good shots on goal but just couldn’t convert.
“They gave it all we had,” Fremont assistant coach Travis Loftus said. “We knew somebody was going to get a goal and it depended on who wanted it more, and it just happened to be Layton who got that.
“We had our chances. We pressed them, we pushed them, we had them against the ropes a few times but just getting the goal didn’t happen for us tonight,” he said.