Sandy • Daniel Blanchard's eyes widened when he saw the ball rolling aimlessly toward him on the right side of the box. Then the freshman forward did something a seasoned veteran would do in a golden-goal overtime playoff scenario.
He buried it.
Blanchard, who was making his first career varsity start for his Bingham Miners, scored the game-winner Tuesday afternoon in a come-from-behind Class 5A first-round road victory over Alta 3-2.
"It feels good, but it's hard to describe," the freshman said.
Without a doubt.
Bingham coach Matthew Kennaley said he had that familiar "gut feeling" coaches get when it came to Blanchard. He thought his talented freshman could make an impact going into the opening playoff round against a Hawks side that came into the match 14-2.
"He was a champ today," Kennaley said.
But Blanchard's memorable moment was just one of many the Miners produced against the Hawks. Once Alta took the lead on a goal by junior forward Alex Tempest in the 37th minute, Bingham responded.
As stoppage time dwindled away in the first half, Bingham senior Trenton Petersen found his way onto a cross and poked it into the net.
The Miners would face a deficit once again when Alta defender Connor Sheffield gave the Hawks the lead two minutes into the second half by finishing a header off a corner kick.
Bingham keeper Mark Stanley kept his team afloat four minutes later. The junior stonewalled Alta striker Marshall Miller's penalty kick attempt. Kennaley repeated afterward: "Huge save. Huge save."
It was then that Miner winger Gabriel Altheman began terrorizing the Hawks' defense on the left side. The sophomore speedster continually made threatening runs into the front third and eventually got his powerful left foot free for a rip.
"All you have to do is put it on your good foot and shoot," he said.
His left-footed rocket knotted the game 2-2 in the 67th minute.
"It's a curse and a blessing some days, and you just hope that day is the day he's going to come out and make people struggle, and today he did a great job of doing that," Kennaley said.
The Miners pressed and pressed and missed two golden opportunities in stoppage time to end the match before heading to overtime.
In the end, it didn't matter. Bingham's second-half response carried over into the sudden-death overtime period, where Blanchard's cool-headed finish sent the boys in blue into a craze.