With the ULA D-I playoffs now underway, the Herriman Mustangs took on the Waterford Ravens Saturday evening in Sandy. Just one week previous, the Mustangs hosted the Ravens and Waterford won in a close match-up by the score of 11-10. This game was much like the previous, ending with each team rushing to get their final goals for a chance to move on to the semifinal round. In the end, Herriman was able to hang onto their early lead and head home with the 12-11 win.
Herriman wasted no time making an opening statement. Midfielder Braxton Thompson scored just 40 seconds into the game. This set a tone for the game, and especially the first and last quarters. It was clear early that each team know what was at stake and they played accordingly. Twenty seconds later, Mustang attackman Chantz Roberts had picked up their second goal.
Things calmed down for the time being on offense, but Herriman was executing their rides well enough to keep the ball out of the hands of the Waterford attack. Roberts took advantage of one such failed Raven ride, snatching a pass from the air and shooting past his defender for another goal. After taking a moment to collect themselves during a timeout, Waterford was finally able to get the ball on their offensive side of the field, almost four minutes into the game. This did not slow the Ravens; they just patiently played their game. More than halfway into the quarter attackman Matthew West scored the team’s first in transition. By the end of the first, Herriman was up 4-3.
This time it was Waterford’s turn to score quick. Less than two minutes in, midfielder Luke Pyper scored during a man up play, assisted by West. Herriman was not willing to keep the game at a tie and midfielder Taylor Brundage brought the team back to the lead, assisted by midfielder Benjamin Richard. Each squad scored another goal by the end of the half.
On paper, the third quarter might have seemed lackluster. Waterford scored two goals while Herriman scored only one. However, in reality both teams continued to play hard, but had also stepped up their defense. The game was tied at 7 by the end of the quarter.
From the opening faceoff marking the beginning of the fourth quarter until the final whistle, both teams were playing as if there were mere seconds left in the game. All players were scrambling for position and scoring opportunities. Occasionally this would pay off, but it also provoked mistakes made by each team.
Again, Herriman would not give Waterford a chance to take the lead, scoring first and early in the final quarter when midfielder Matthew Everton picked of a clear and scored. West answered back taking advantage when midfielder David Lewis tied up two Mustang defenders with a screen. Herriman then went on a 4-1 run to give themselves a three point lead with under three minutes in the game. Waterford was not willing to let this game go.
Returning to the field after a time out, West intercepted the inbound, turned and was able to score on an open goal. The lead was down to two. Again, both teams were scrambling for ground balls and shots, were riding hard and sprinting on clears. With 34 seconds left, West scored once more to bring the Herriman lead to just one. Waterford had the last chance to score, but overthrew the ball on their last opportunity to clear as the clock expired. Herriman had won 12-11.
Midfielder Taylor Brundage led the Mustangs in scoring, with three goals and an assist. Both Braxton Thompson and Matthew Dykes each picked up two goals and two assists. Combined with the hard rides and defense, the Mustangs held on to a close win.
“I thought we came out really on fire and did a really great job in the first quarter,” commented Herriman Head Coach Mark Roothoff. “Then we started getting the penalties and made mistakes and that really hurt. But [we] were able to come back and hold on to the win in the last quarter.”
In one word, Roothoff summed up the team’s plans for their upcoming game – ‘win’.
Herriman will meet up with Juan Diego in a semifinal match-up. The two teams have competed once before and Juan Diego ended up on top with a 14-13 win. The defending champions can still pack a punch and this game should prove to be another fight to the finish.