MILLVILLE — A 1-1 draw was the final result of the seminal Region 11 title deciding matchup between Ridgeline and Green Canyon as 100 minutes were not enough to separate the two 4A powerhouses.
Though one game remains on the schedule for all Region 11 teams, the dominance of these two teams over the rest of the league meant a positive result Thursday would put the winner in the fast lane on the road to a region title. Green Canyon (11-1-2, 6-1-2), though it already had a 1-0 win over the Riverhawks (11-3-1, 7-1-1) in its pocket, needed a win to leapfrog RHS in the standings. Ridgeline merely needed a tie to stay ahead with a win ending all hope for a Wolves region title.
The excitement level and competitiveness were fitting given the stakes of such a game.
“All I can say is that was an excellent game of soccer from two teams that are very well put together,” RHS head coach Mark Tureson said.
“It was an awesome game,” GC head coach Sven Rasmussen said. “We had some chances, we hit a crossbar, they hit a post. It was very open, very fun, attacking soccer to watch.”
Ridgeline spent most of the game up 1-0 thanks to a ninth-minute goal. London Miller fed a perfect through ball to Halle Van Yperen, who danced around Brooke Watkins — owner of 10 clean sheets this season — and tapped the ball into the net.
That didn’t do anything to lower the intensity, however, as both sides played a tight, physical and sometimes chippy game. Kylie Olsen earned a yellow card in the 35th for a shirt pull on a Riverhawk player.
Eventually, the Wolves got their equalizer. In the 70th, Olsen sent a corner into the mixer where McKenna Crane headed it in — her second header goal off a corner in as many games. That put pressure on the Riverhawks to not choke away a potentially region-clinching game, but the home team didn’t buckle.
“The ups and downs, those things are going to happen in a game,” Tureson said. “I was proud of our team for digging in. (Green Canyon) had a lot of pace and our girls were really committed to staying in front of them.”
Failing to get the win wasn’t ideal, but Tureson liked what he saw in terms of competitiveness from his side in such an intense game.
“Tonight they proved to themselves that in a high-pressure game they can absolutely compete,” Tureson said. “And that’s what we needed to learn tonight.”
Ridgeline looked far from a team intimidated by the clutch. The team put three shots on goal in the two overtimes periods, plus an Olivia Smith shot that struck the post. In fact, with 1:16 left in the game, Miller appeared to score the game-winner off an assist by Alex Baer, but the assistant referee raised his flag, calling Miller offside (much to the home crowd’s disappointment).
The Wolves didn’t back down either, playing stellar defense — Crane putting together a monster game patrolling the defensive side of the field — and getting several great looks themselves. In the 89th, the Wolves nearly put another ball in the net on a corner. A Kaizley Holbrook kick from the corner flag wound up pin-balling around the 6-yard box with several GC players directing the ball at goal, but the feet of the RHS players were always in the way to keep the shots off frame.
Rasmussen, rather than get down by failing to secure a region title, had a fair amount of pep in his step.
“I’m not disappointed at all. I actually feel really good,” Rasmussen said. “That was really fun. Our girls played well, responded well, made some changes tactically. I’m crazy proud of our girls.”
The Riverhawks have just one game remaining on their schedule as they will play Mountain Crest. A win there will give RHS its first-ever girls soccer region title.
Tureson has dismissed thoughts of standings, region titles and rankings for most of the season despite spending most of it as the region front-runner.
“Our ultimate goal is to play the last week of October,” Tureson said. “Would I like a region title? Yes, I would love a region title, but I’m looking into October for these girls.”
Green Canyon will conclude its regular season schedule by hosting Logan.
GRIZZLIES 3, BOBCATS 2
With the win Thursday, Logan (6-9-0, 5-4-0) won back-to-back games for the first time this season. Last year, Logan had a three-game preseason win streak and then went on a 13- game winning streak, including a 10-0 region record, before a losing in the 4A playoffs.
The Grizzlies opened up the game with a 2-0 lead by the 48th thanks to goals by Emma Browning and Whitney Lopez. Sky View (7-6-2, 3-4-2) then scored two unanswered goals in the second half — first by Addie Poulsen and then Madison Daniels on a penalty kick — to force overtime.
After 13 minutes of extra soccer, Lopez scored her second goal of the game on an assist by Alec Kennington.
“We’re still figuring out a few things,” Logan head coach Natalie Norris said. “But I do think we’re slowly coming together. That was a hard-fought game on both sides, and I’m proud of my girls for finishing it and getting the result tonight.”
MUSTANGS 2, BEARS 0
Mountain Crest (4-9-2, 3-5-1) snapped a five-game winless run with the two-goal victory over Bear River (0-9-0 region). The Mustangs began their region schedule by winning two of three games, one of those against Green Canyon who are unbeaten in Region 11 outside of that loss.
After a 2-0 win over Bear River on Sept. 10, MC did not post another win until Thursday, going 0-4-1 with a minus-six goal difference.
“We’ve had a bit of a rough season this year and we’ve forgotten why we enjoy playing,” Hyatt said. “Tonight was all about remembering why we love to play soccer and just go out there and have fun as a team.”