Sandy • No Josh Loomis, no problem.
Sure, Brighton’s leading goal scorer had been suspended for the final due to the two yellows in the semifinal, the second with seconds remaining on a strict time-wasting call. But even without a senior leader, Brighton scored enough goals — including the golden goal just at the death of the first overtime — to put away Olympus, 3-2, and win the 5A boys’ soccer championship on Thursday afternoon.
“It’s a travesty he wasn’t able to play today," Bengals head coach Brett Rosen said, clearly still upset at the call. "We wanted this for him.”
So when the Bengals took the field, the team wore black wristbands to remind themselves of Loomis’ absence. And perhaps it paid off most when Braxton Jones rose up on the short end of the six-yard box for a corner kick with only 20 seconds left in the first half of overtime, sealing Brighton’s win.
“(Loomis) meant everything for us,” Jones said after the game.
It was junior substitute London Botelho who wore Loomis’ No. 11 for the game, and also scored Brighton’s first goal. A devastating finish from nearly 30 yards out, Botelho’s dipping shot went just over Olympus goalkeeper Ian Jones’ fingertips and clipped a small enough portion of the crossbar to bounce off the Rio Tinto goal-line grass and beyond the line. The score equalized the contest at one goal each midway through the first half.
“I just got the ball in the middle of the field, and I looked up and saw I didn’t have an option," Botelho said. “I thought I might as well have a crack, right?”
Olympus’ Din Huremovic scored both of the Titans’ goals, one in each half. The first came from a brilliant run and layoff pass from midfielder Logan Davies, while the second was an opportunistic finish in the box. Both times, Huremovic gave the Titans a lead.
But Brighton responded again, this time from the penalty spot. Brighton’s Alex Fankhauser was clipped in the box by the Titans’ keeper with 18:40 left, giving Brandon Neeley a chance that he slotted home with strength.
“Olympus is a tough team, they’re tough, they’re physical. We had to work our way around it. We stay in the present. We go down a goal, we come back. We go down a goal, we come back,” Rosen said. “We knew that if we just kept fighting and doing what we do, we’d get a chance.”
It almost came in regular time, as the Bengals had two golden chances in the final three minutes at Rio Tinto Stadium. A well worked chance to Adam Ranck went just over the bar, and a header from Neeley with about 10 seconds left was saved by Olympus’ Jones.
But while Brighton’s golden chances weren’t converted to complete regulation, the golden goal in overtime was certainly enough.
“Twenty years ago I played in this game as a player. I didn’t think anything would be greater," Rosen said. “Watching these kids come back and win today, this is amazing.”