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COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — For the second time in a week, the Murray boys soccer team played the game of their lives, and now they're headed to the 5A semifinals.
Casey Yates got behind the Brighton defense and used his strong leg to rifle a goal in overtime to lift the Spartans past the heavily favored Bengals 3-2 Friday afternoon that set off a celebration that lasted more than 30 minutes on Brighton's home field.
Afterward, Murray coach Bryan DeMann noted the irony of the victory.
"He (Yates) scored the winning goal Tuesday against Viewmont and this one here," he said. "I don't think he had scored a goal all season before this, did he? It's magic, or something, but we'll take it."
Yates' goal total was confirmed afterward, and now the magical Spartan team advanced to play Fremont on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Woods Cross High School. Brighton, a dominant team that nearly made it through the regular season undefeated, ended the year with a 15-2 record.
"It was a great game," said Brighton coach Russ Boyer. "We put as much pressure on them as we could. They had three great chances to score and finished all three. We can't say that."
The Bengals were relentless offensively in this match and kept the ball on Murray's end of the field most of the time, yet trailed 1-0 at halftime. They saw the margin increase to 2-0 when the Spartans' Adrien Baldwin scored in the early minutes of the second half.
As unlikely as it seemed before the game, Murray was in great position to win. The Spartans had the lead and all the momentum. Goalkeeper Britton Farr and his defensemen (Yates, Thomas Rodriguez, Keegan Summers, Eddie Walkington and Christian Hunter) frustrated the Bengals by turning away dozens of shots.
Nothing changed until five minutes remained in regulation.
Both Boyer and DeMann estimated the Bengals had nearly 30 shots on goal before Dane Nielsen snuck one over Farr's head at the five-minute mark to make the score 2-1. As the clock ticked down, Murray packed in its defense and Brighton played at a hurried pace until Jordan Hatanaka rebounded a corner kick and tied the game, sending the Bengals' sideline into delirium.
"It was a great effort by our kids to come back like that," Boyer said. "They fought hard and played to the very end."
After a short break, Brighton seemed to be ready to put it away, but Yates changed all of that with his second straight game-winning goal.
"We packed it in (on defense) in the second half, and maybe we did it too much," said DeMann. "It's ironic that when we opened it up in overtime, things changed."
And the Spartans (12-5-1) won their second straight overtime game. They are breaking ground in their first year as a 5A team and are delighted to do it.