Overtime goal lifts Brighton boys soccer to state championship
Jun 18, 2019 01:44PM
● By Josh McFadden
The Brighton boys soccer team storms the field excitedly after capturing the 5A state championship. (Photo courtesy of Kirsten Stewart.)
By Josh McFadden | [email protected]
In a Class 5A state title game against Olympus that seemed destined for a second overtime period, Brighton’s Braxton Jones made sure his team wouldn’t have to sweat out another 10 minutes and risk going into a shootout.
The senior scored the game-winning goal with less than a minute left to play in the first overtime, giving the Bengals a thrilling 3-2 win over the Titans. With the victory, Brighton claimed its first state championship in a decade. The Bengals had last appeared in a state title game in 2015 when it lost 2-1 to Alta.
Jones picked a great time to score his second goal of the season. His successful shot off a corner kick from teammate Alex Fankhauser broke a 2-2 tie that came after the Bengals had trailed 2-1 in the second half. Brennan Neeley scored in the second half for Brighton on the heels of an Olympus goal early in the half. The Titans also opened the scoring, but Brighton’s London Botelho knotted things at 1-1 before halftime.
Brighton prevailed in the contest, held May 23 at Rio Tinto Stadium, without the services of leading scorer Josh Loomis, who received two yellow cards in the semifinal match against Skyridge two days earlier, making him ineligible for the finals. Loomis had scored 16 goals on the year, good enough for third among all 5A players.
Fankhauser wasn’t far behind with 13 goals. He and the rest of the Bengals picked up the slack to upend Olympus, which entered the contest with an impressive 15-2-2 record.
The Bengals reached the championship match by defeating Skyridge by an identical 3-2 score. The game also ended in similar fashion. Though it didn’t go into overtime, Brighton found the back of the net in the final minutes to secure the win. In this game, it was sophomore Cameron Neeley who got the game-winner.
Brighton ended the season with an 18-1 record, winning its final 12 games. The only blemish was a 2-1 loss to Corner Canyon on April 12. The Bengals excelled in close games, winning eight times by one goal, including all four playoff games. Brighton tallied 62 goals on the season, best in 5A and eighth most in the state.
The Bengals lost some key players from the championship squad, but they certainly won’t be without weapons in 2020. Cameron Neeley will come back (though his brother Brennan departs), as will contributors Botelho, Jax Vance, Jackson McKeon, Chandler Turpin and Walker Schwendiman.