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Sandy • With the history that Brighton and Alta's boys' soccer teams have between them, you had to figure Thursday's game would be close.
True to form, the Bengals and Hawks engaged in another classic battle, with Brighton scoring the game's lone goal on a penalty kick shortly before halftime to edge Alta 1-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium. The outcome marked the 20th consecutive time the longtime rivals had played to a tie or one-goal differential.
"It's always a playoff atmosphere when we play Alta," Brighton's Matt Coffey said. "It's way fun to play these games and so intense. I'd like to shut out teams big, but I prefer a game like this. It's always a close game no matter what."
The win was Brighton's third straight over Alta since losing to the Hawks 3-2 in double overtime in the 5A championship game in 2011. The last multi-goal differential between the teams was in 2004, when Brighton won 3-0.
"That says a lot about the rivalry," Bengals coach Russ Boyer said. "We love to play these games because it brings out the competitive greatness in the kids. I expect it to be just as hard fought the next time. It's a fun rivalry."
After clanging metal twice in a three-minute span in the first half, Brighton broke a scoreless game when Coffey was taken down inside the penalty box in the 35th minute. Shortly thereafter, Ben Perkins took the penalty kick and scored into the lower left corner of the goal to give the Bengals the lead for good.
Prior to the goal, Brighton's Seth Fankhauser blasted a shot off the left post and Perkins slammed another off the crossbar.
"I thought we did a good job of creating chances," said Boyer, who celebrated with a fist pump. "We kept trying the whole game. We got good looks, but we just never finished. That's always a challenge against a good team like Alta."
The Hawks, however, wouldn't go away quietly. After playing in its defensive end the majority of the first half, Alta was more aggressive in the second half. The Hawks had an equal number of chances as the Bengals, but couldn't get anything past keeper Kolton Savage, who made six saves.
Savage made the save of the game midway through the second half when he leapt to tip a shot over the crossbar and out for a corner kick.
"We worked hard the whole game," Coffey said. "We were defending well and were classy up top. It was really important to score first because then it gets them on their back foot the rest of the game. It felt like a playoff game."
With the victory, Brighton remains undefeated (7-0 overall, 1-0 region) while Alta suffered its first loss of the season (5-1, 1-1). The teams will meet again on April 30, likely with the region championship hanging in the balance.
Storylines Brighton 1, Alta 0
R Ben Perkins converts a penalty kick just minutes before halftime for the game's only goal.