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Braves Dominate Faceoffs, Use Precision Passing To Down Knights

Bountiful Lacrosse LogoThe Bountiful Braves locked up their seventh league win Friday, using a near-perfect faceoff performance from senior FOS Jace Thomas and quick ball movement on the offensive end to pull away in the second half as they handed the Lone Peak Knights a 21-12 loss.
Thomas, who has committed to play for the Air Force Academy next year, went 32-of-35 at the faceoff X for the Braves, winning an incredible 91% of faceoffs on the day and giving Bountiful the first look at almost every possession in the game.
“We have a distinct advantage in faceoff with Jace,” observed Bountiful Head Coach Marty Wescott, “You have a lot of possessions, a lot of opportunities. It starts there.”
But faceoffs alone don’t win lacrosse games; Thomas scored four goals of his own and had help on the offensive end as five other Braves got on the board. The attack line for Bountiful led the charge and accounted for twelve of the team’s twenty-one goals: Brock Jeppesen with five, Michael Cheney with four, and Chandler Wescott with three.
“They can score, they move the ball really well,” said Coach Wescott of his starting three attackmen, “[they’re] doing a great job this year of putting in a lot of points.”
The Lone Peak Knights had a trio of their own that kept them in the game through the first half: Mitchell Decker, Tanner Sheide, and Jake Pace each had two goals in the first half to keep things tight.  Pace would finish the game as the Knights leading scorer with four, and Sheide and Decker each tallied one more in the second half, giving them a hat trick each on the night.
The game, which was rainy and windy through much of the first half, started slowly with staunch defense on both ends and both keepers playing well. After several minutes of missed passes, failed transition attempts, and lost possessions, Lone Peak got on the board when Decker drove topside off the wing and buried a shot. This was followed by Sheide muscling low on the wing and putting the ball over the keeper’s shoulder to put the Knights up 2-0.  An exclamation point dodge from Bountiful’s Zach Jones would halt Lone Peak’s momentum, though, and goals from Jeppesen and Thomas would give the Braves the advantage going into the quarter break, up 3-2.
The second quarter embodied the saying that lacrosse is a game of runs: Bountiful looked like they might roll for the rest of the game as they scored four unanswered, including a man-up laser from Wescott to the bottom of the cage.  But Lone Peak responded and put together a four-goal run of their own, assisted by three fantastic one-on-one saves from Knight keeper Sean Wetsel to keep the mojo flowing their way, and the Knights went into the break down just a single point, 6-7.
Brave goals from Wescott and Jeppesen opened things up for Bountiful in the third, and a Knight goal from Pace was answered by a Brave goal from Thomas.  A new scorer then emerged for Bountiful as James Clayton grabbed a pair of goals, one a clever drive off a quick restart, to extend the Brave lead. The Knights pushed back with two goals from Decker and Sheide, but Thomas answered for the Braves and Lone Peak found themselves falling further behind, now down 13-9 at the quarter.
The fourth quarter belonged to the Braves, who looked as if they’d just been warming up for three quarters before unleashing their offense.  Bountiful ran off five quick goals to start the quarter, using precision passing for feeds into tight spots on the crease and good vision on transition to find open teammates.  After a long Lone Peak possession, the Knights finally got one when Josh Stout sent an early-bouncer to the top corner of the goal. But the Braves were still rolling and ripped off three more scores as a response.  The Knights did all they could to push back, Pace even batting a bouncing ball into the cage for a score and Tanner Lloyd picking up a late goal, but the Braves had built too big a lead to overcome.
“We’ve played really good halves of games, and we did it again today,” said Wescott, “we’re trying to string a whole game together. If we can do that, we might be able to make a run at a championship. Lone Peak came out really aggressive and I think it was good for us to have to match their intensity.”
Bountiful will try to keep up the intensity as they travel to rival Viewmont on Wednesday, April 30, at 5:00 pm.  Lone Peak will try to regroup as they host Centennial (ID) on Saturday followed by Viewmont Monday, April 28 at 7:00 pm.

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