Prep boys' soccer: Unexpected loss sparked Bountiful's title run
Its leading scorer only scored six goals. Four others had five.
And way down on the list was a guy with three goals who the coach called his "right-hand man."
The Bountiful Braves boys' soccer team also had a football player (BYU recruit Rylee Gautavai) who came out for his senior season and became a regular. It also had another senior whose primary concern was fighting for his life rather than playing soccer.
And on the cusp of the postseason, the Braves suffered a rather inexplicable defeat to a Woods Cross team that Bountiful defeated 5-0 earlier in the season.
Still, all the components added up to a Class 4A state championship when the Braves beat Orem 2-0 in the title game.
"They started feeling a little too confident, and it had a humbling effect," Bountiful coach Lou Plank said about the overtime setback to Woods Cross just before the playoffs began. "It sort of kicked them in the backside and got them going again."
Bountiful ousted Hillcrest 3-1 in the opening round of the state tournament then won overtime contests against Mountain View and Murray to get to the title game.
The Braves held down Orem's Daniel Corbett, who had 16 goals during the season, and took the championship game behind goals from Alex Simpson and Cesar Duenas.
Simpson was one of those Bountiful players who had five goals during the season, and Duenas, the coach's right-hand man, scored his third goal of the season in the championship.
"Balance is a characteristic of a good team, like we've had in the past, rather than teams that did not advance as far who had stars specifically a flashy, confident forward who takes it on himself to carry the team and take the ball into impossible situations," Plank said.
"I think we had a great season, and most of it was just how united we were," Duenas said. "We just focused a lot on being friends and just loving each other."
The love certainly was there when senior Nick Rasmussen suffered complications from an appendicitis operation that put him in dire circumstances on a hospital bed and nearly kept him off the soccer field all season.
Rasmussen worked his way back, first through a role as a manager then seeing spot action in the playoffs.
With Bountiful holding a two-goal lead in the championship match, Plank summoned Rasmussen off the bench with 10 minutes to go.
"He told me, 'Hold on, I'm not ready,'" Plank recalled of Rasmussen's initial reaction before his stretched and warmed up.
Rasmussen was on the field for the last four minutes of the Braves' victory over Orem.
"I was just glad I could help out the team any way I could and be part of this family," Rasmussen said. "It really was special from the very beginning the whole run we made."
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