Prep boys' soccer: Strong finish encourages Bingham
After two regular-season losses to Lehi, Bingham's boys' soccer players felt the result would be different in the schools' third meeting.
Bigger stage, heightened expectations, better result.
But the Miners' hopes of their first state title since 2001 tumbled to the Rio Tinto Stadium turf earlier this month. Three up, three down against the region rival Pioneers.
"I thought it was going to be different," sophomore Gabe Altheman said about the Class 5A championship game result. "I thought we were going to be able to work more as a team and possess the ball.
"We started it in the first half, but after they scored, we lost it a little bit."
It was the Miners' sixth defeat of the season, half coming against the champion Pioneers, who claimed the top honor with a 2-0 decision. It also marked the fifth time the Miners (13-6-1) failed to score a goal.
It seems playing from behind didn't best fit Bingham's game.
"As long as we could score, we could keep the games competitive," Bingham coach Matt Kennaley said. "In the games we could score, we just couldn't get the equalizer and couldn't get into the win column.
"Against Lehi, we really tried to only give them a couple of opportunities, but they capitalized on every opportunity they had, and we couldn't."
The Miners rode a solid back line and strong midfield to a third-place finish in Region 4. They allowed just 11 goals in 10 region matches, thanks in large part to the play of senior defender Tyler Devenberg, who typically drew assignments against the opponent's top scorer.
"Tyler is just a monster," Kennaley said. "He was the anchor of our defense and had to play face-up to some of really big goal scorers Connor [Thompson] at Copper Hills and Alta's [Marshall Miller]."
Bingham also led the region in goals scored, with 22 in region play. Kennaley credited senior midfielders Mitch Doman and Trenton Peterson as integral parts of the offense, with both setting up teammates for numerous scoring opportunities.
Kennaley said he expected his team was capable of making the run to Rio Tinto because of how well it played in close matches. The Miners were 7-2-1 in games decided by one goal or less.
"I knew no matter who we played, we were going to play tight and give teams a lot of trouble," he said. "Our defense is solid, and if we could catch a few breaks, I knew we had a chance."
The Miners will return their top three scorers next season Altheman (nine goals), and juniors Gage Davis (eight) and Hunter Stutz (seven). Returning freshman Daniel Blanchard also will add to their depth.
Altheman believes the experience of reaching the title game this season will raise the bar on expectations in 2014.
"This year, there were a lot of people who doubted us and didn't think we could make it this far," he said. "I think [this experience] will help us play confident right from the start next year."
Bingham reached the Class 5A state title game but lost to Region 4 rival Lehi for the third time this season.
The Miners were shut out in 5 of 6 losses this season, including a 2-0 decision in the championship game.
Bingham returns its top three goal scorers next season, including sophomore Gabe Altheman (nine goals).