At this point in the season games are typically won and lost in the fourth quarter. But the Brighton Bengals used a dominant first half to secure a 14-8 win.
Leading 5-1 after the first quarter, Coach Gerrit Schafrath relied on a deep bench to finish out the rest of the game. This was something the team was forced to develop earlier this season when dealing with the injury bug, and helped build his team’s next-man-up mentality.
Said Schafrath, “It’s something that will always be in our DNA is to run teams,”
With that mentality the Bengals kept the sub box busy running in fresh players from a deep bench and built an 11-2 half time lead. It looked like the game was headed much like the first time the teams met up back on March 27 when Brighton won 19-7.
Coming in the Brighton coaches knew if they came out and played the same game they wouldn’t be successful. The staff decided to change some things up. One aspect which was unlike the first time they met is they pressured the goalie and forced quicker passe and shutdown the Titans clearing game.
But Olympus would find other ways to fight back. Maguire Richins came out and again continued to split face offs winning what seemed to be the lion’s share at the X and giving the Titans attack fed opportunities at the goal.
The Brighton defense was strong around the crease, turning down shooters and affecting shots enough to keep them wide and off target. The Bengals mostly cleared with ease, which lead to the Bengals winning the midfield battle and getting settled touches and fast breaks.
Olympus was able to slide and recover better in the second half and would rotate before Brighton was able to take advantage. A big play happened when the Titans converted on a man-up opportunity late in the game after going 0-3 on previous chances. Brighton seemed to be satisfied dodging and bouncing the ball around while melting time off the clock.
Heading into the fourth quarter the Bengals lead was 12-3 and seemed to be slipping. The first and second looks continued to dry up for Brighton in the fourth and Olympus took advantage. Tommy Poulton was able to add some late goals that quickly added to his hat-trick. Teammate Xander Gordon had a pair of goals including a sweet behind-the-back goal to beat the keeper.
With just over four minutes left Olympus was heating up and starting to creep a little too close for comfort. The score was 13-8. A Brighton timeout after a loose ball was called to cool the Titans off and regroup. That seemed to do the trick as the Bengals were able to come out of it and secure their grip on the game.
The Brighton goalie was instrumental late as he turned down many attempts and kept his defense in place, fending-off the come from behind attempt the Titans hoped for.
Easton Albert went off for Brighton, leading all scorers with six goals and two assists.
“We try to distribute the looks. For some odd reason, Easton got the most looks today and we capitalized and he capitalized,” said Schafrath. “We never look at one person to put the brunt of our offense on, but tonight was his night.”
Brighton will face Corner Canyon in the Boys Division A semifinals.