HYRUM — It was the response Amber Hyatt was hoping to see from her Mustangs after they conceded an early goal.
Preston converted on a free kick in the 16th minute, but Mountain Crest bounced back with two goals in the final 15 minutes of the first half en route to a 4-1 victory over the Indians in a non-region girls soccer match Thursday night at Lynn R. Miller Field.
“That’s a typical trend for us is, for some reason, we have to come from behind, but whatever works I guess to motivate them,” Hyatt said while chuckling. “But I was proud that they didn’t give up. I think we played a little panicked after they scored and we were trying to do to much, but I think eventually we calmed down a little bit and started (clicking).”
The Mustangs (3-3-0) were crisp in the attack in the early going, but the final product just wasn’t quite there. That changed with 15 minutes remaining in the opening half when Andie Andrus volleyed in a Amelia Zilles corner kick at the back post.
“The first goal’s always the hardest one, so just that one to break the ice helps, and then the confidence is there and that’s half of (the battle),” Andrus said.
Mountain Crest took the lead for good 13 minutes later when Sadie Coggins intercepted a Preston free kick, cut the ball to her right foot and unleashed a curling shot from outside the 18-yard box just inside the far post.
The Mustangs nearly added to their advantage early in the first half when Baylie Baldwin used her blazing speed to get behind Preston’s backline, but goalkeeper Sydnee Marlow got just enough of Baldwin’s shot to steer it inches wide of the right post. Marlow made another nice save later in the game.
Baldwin wasn’t about to be denied a few minutes later, though, as she tracked down a well-weighted Bret Everding through ball and beat Marlow one-v-one eight minutes into the half.
Andrus put the finishing touches on Mountain Crest’s second straight win courtesy of a strong strike with a Preston defender on her hip pocket in the 60th minute. The goal was assisted by Baldwin, whose pass to Andrus was right on the money.
The Mustangs were able to apply pressure on Preston from the flanks and in the middle of the pitch after halftime, much to the delight of Hyatt.
“I’m was so pleased with that,” said Hyatt, who was also happy with her side’s defensive performance. “We’ve been working on just being creative up front and, at the beginning of the second half, I think we did an awesome job of that. We were super creative and shots were coming from all over, crosses were coming from all over, so it was nice to see everyone being involved in the attack, basically.”
Preston’s best opportunity to pull a goal back in the second half came on a well-struck effort from distance by Sydney Kelley that required a nice save at the near post by MC keeper Dakota Andersen.
The Indians (2-2-0) dented the scoreboard first on a flick header by Addison Moser, who converted on a well-placed free kick by Kylie Larsen. Preston has already netted a handful of goals off set pieces this season.
“It’s encouraging because the last couple of years we’ve been disastrous at those until very late in the season,” said PHS head coach Brandon Lyon, whose team played its fourth match in a seven-day stretch. “Finding the fluidity in the attack is always one of the last things to really click, and in past years we haven’t had the set pieces to make up for this. This year in these early couple of game, we’ve scored a lot off of set pieces, so this have that clicking this early on (is great to see).”
Preston took its lumps a bit this week on the road against Sky View and Mountain Crest, but Lyon is confident this experience will pay off in the near future.
“Those games coming (into Cache County) are invaluable because the alternative is playing weaker teams in Idaho,” he said. “I mean, we could find some good teams, but this level of competition when they’re two weeks ahead of us, they’re going to give us something that we would not see in Idaho. ... And yeah it’s been rough to have a 4-0 and a 4-1 scoreline, but the girls I think have a really good perspective on what this did for us. It’s like I said after the Sky View game, I feel confident that within two weeks we’ll be playing at this level. We’re just not there yet.”
As for the Mustangs, they have some solid momentum heading into next Tuesday’s Region 11 opener against Logan.
“We have a tough region, but I’m excited that we’ve figured things out, and so we’re ready for the challenge,” Andrus said.
GRIZZLIES 1, WINGED LIONS 0
Logan continues to find a way to win close games and will take a five-match winning streak into next week’s showdown with visiting Mountain Crest. The Grizzlies (5-2-0) have prevailed three times by a 1-0 scoreline and twice in a shootout.
Alec Kennington found the back of the net for Logan 15 minutes into the second half on the road against Rowland Hall (2-2-0). The goal was assisted by Ashley Coppin.
Cadence Martindale earned her third shutout in goal for the Grizzlies, who got a big defensive performance from Kylee Thanadabout, head coach Natalie Norris said.