NORTH LOGAN — Sky View fell behind 4-3 at halftime in its playoff game against Syracuse but proceeded to outscore the Titans 8-2 in the second half to win 11-6 and advance to the second round of the UHSLL Division B playoffs.
It is often said that basketball is a game of runs, but Wednesday evening’s lacrosse matchup seemed more of a run-filled game than most hardwood competitions. In all, the two teams combined for three runs of at least three unanswered goals with the Bobcats (10-6) owning bursts of 3-0 and 5-0, and Syracuse (8-8) producing four unanswered goals spanning the first and second quarters.
That four-goal push from the Titans put Sky View in a difficult spot. Not only did it put the Bobcats behind at halftime 4-3, but it erased momentum the team had built after finishing the first quarter up 3-1. According to attacker Max Dayton, “the energy level was just a bit low” during that second quarter across the board which held the team back and allowed for the first-half Titan comeback and prevented the Bobcats from scoring a single goal in the second.
Another factor was the play of Syracuse’s star attacker Tate Craig, who scored 49 regular season goals with 15 assists. His play in the second quarter, which included the lead-taking goal with 1:20 remaining in the half, opened up the Sky View defense.
“(Craig is) a really good attackman,” SV head coach Kevin Mann said. “We let him get away from us a couple of times in that second quarter and he got a couple goals there that gave (Syracuse) that little lead.”
Sky View’s defensive game plan actually focussed around the sophomore attacker, whom the Bobcats saw before in their season opener against these same Titans. Craig scored two goals with an assist in that game, but Sky View rallied late to win 7-6.
Reviewing that previous matchup with the Titans played a big role in formulating that game plan according to Mann and helped spark the eventual comeback.
“We watched our film from that game and we were prepared,” Mann said. “We had a game plan and I think we executed it, minus the second quarter.”
That preparation came into play in more ways than one, and the preparation came from more than one place. The Bobcats have been in multiple situations this year where they’ve needed a comeback. Mann has also disciplined his team to put behind them past mistakes and move on, even going so far as to have a box on the sideline that his players will physically put their hands into to symbolize setting aside previous mishaps. All in all, Mann said the mental aspect of the game factored as much into his team’s turnaround as anything that physically happened on the field.
The small comeback itself started with a game-tying goal just under three minutes into the second half from Tanner Stokes off a nifty dump-off pass from Jacob Zollinger. Dayton added the go-ahead goal six minutes later. Sky View only got two goals in the third, which was fewer than the three in the first and five in the fourth, but Mann noted its importance.
“That third quarter was huge. We just killed their momentum and we got the lead,” Mann said.
In addition to nixing the Titans’ momentum, the two goals also brought the energy level up that Dayton said was down prior to halftime.
“That (tying goal) and the tie-breaker, that was when we really started getting up,” Dayton said.
Sky View certainly did its part on offense to shift the momentum and take control of the game — eight goals in a half tends to be enough in most games — but defense, and a little luck, also impacted the contest in no small way.
Firstly, an illegal screen called against Syracuse negated what would have been an equalizer with 40 seconds to go in the third. But while that play had luck factoring into it, Reegen Wadsworth’s back-to-back highlight-reel saves early in the fourth were far from lucky. Syracuse managed to produce a one-on-one situation with Wadsworth facing down a Titan attacker, but he saved the near point-blank shot and not only that, saved the rebound shot from almost the same distance.
Having won Wednesday’s game, Sky View will travel to Herriman on Friday to take on the Herriman Mustangs in the second round. The time of the game has not yet been decided.