I told my guys we’d have to step up and they did that. —Cesar Cardoso
PROVO — Despite the cold and wet conditions, Provo High School continued its hot start to the season Tuesday afternoon.
The red-hot Bulldogs capitalized off two first-half goals and came up big on defense down the stretch to outlast Alta 2-1 and pick up their fifth win in their first six games.
“We played against a good team with a lot of tradition. We knew they were a very strong and patient team. I told my guys we’d have to step up and they did that. It was really windy and some things didn’t go our way, so I’m very happy to get this win today,” Provo head coach Cesar Cardoso said.
The home team came out and instantly got rolling on offense behind some tremendous passing to put the Hawks on their heels.
Then, in the 24th minute, senior midfielder Jesse Bonilla made a move and beat the keeper to give Provo a 1-0 lead and all the momentum.
The Bulldogs remained on the attack and just nine minutes later, in the 33rd minute, senior midfielder McKay Heaton cleaned up a corner kick into the back of the net to give Provo a comfortable 2-0 lead at the break.
“I felt very comfortable in the first half. They did not create anything as much as we did — we were able to pass the ball very well, we kept the possession and pushed the ball. Getting that second goal was huge for us going into halftime,” Cardoso said.
However, knowing what a great team Alta is, Cardoso knew his team was in for a dogfight in the second half and prepared them for just that.
And was he right.
The Hawks came out and sliced through the home team's defense early and often to create some great looks at the net before Zach Maas found twine in the 53rd minute to cut their deficit in half at 2-1 and get back in the game.
“I told my guys at the half in the locker room, ‘Hey, these guys will not die in the second half. They will come out even stronger,’ and that’s exactly what they did. They were more physical, faster and were able to put together some great passes and get past our defense,” said Cardoso.
Then, clinging to a one-goal lead, Provo turned up the heat on the defensive end to regain control of the tempo in the final 20 minutes and looked to wear down the high-flying Hawks.
Alta continued to push the ball and was able to create a fair share of scoring opportunities. However, the Bulldogs quickly regrouped, did their best not to foul and continued to withstand the Hawks' frantic attack as they tried to run out the clock.
“The circumstances of the game forced us to defend them more than attack them. We still had some counter-attacks, but there was no doubt about it — we had to play great defense and that was our focus. We stopped getting dumb fouls, calmed down, made some plays and made them run after us,” Cardoso said.
Provo's defense remained disciplined, refused to bend and kept Alta out of the net down the stretch to hang on for the hard-fought 2-1 victory.
Ryan Love is a full-time student and has been a part-time sportswriter for Deseret News since Oct. 2012.
Follow him on Twitter @RLove7724