Wednesday , May 16, 2018 - 7:48 PM
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article misidentified the Roy High who took the free kick that resulted in the first goal. It was Kayden Freeland, not Gunner Erickson. The Standard-Examiner regrets the error.
ROY — Payten Craven didn’t know if it was a shot or a cross attempt. All he knew was the ball had found its way to his right foot.
So the Roy soccer senior did what anyone would do from 6 yards. Shoot.
“Beautiful,” he said.
His close-range shot put the Royals ahead 2-1 and they held on to that lead to beat Olympus in the first round of the 5A state playoffs Wednesday at Sand Ridge Park.
Craven scored with a header to put Roy ahead in the seventh minute, but the 2-1 lead at halftime was only the first chapter of a tense game.
The Titans put the Roy goal under siege in the second half. They had five shots on goal, eight free kicks within 30 yards from goal and two corner kicks.
Each time, the Royals’ defense held firm despite the rising temperatures of the game.
“We know when to attack and we knew when to come back, our coach has been preaching defense. We knew we had the lead, we knew defense was going to win the game for us,” Craven said.
Final: Roy 2-1 Olympus. Royals dug in for 40 minutes of the 2nd half and held on pic.twitter.com/7o3v7rS2qX— Patrick Carr (@patrickcarr_) May 16, 2018
Olympus started controlling the ball exclusively right from the first whistle and likely finished with at least 60 percent of the possession in the match.
Roy got a free kick and Kayden Freeland placed it in the box perfectly for Craven to meet with his head and give the Royals a 1-0 lead.
Six minutes later, the Titans scored on a headed free kick of their own, the type of goal Roy head coach Craig Charlesworth says the Royals have been susceptible to this year.
Roy didn’t allow many clean chances off set pieces after the goal.
“We knew that they were going to get some chances and we were able to just withstand it,” Charlesworth said. “A little bit lucky at times.”
In the 27th minute, Roy sophomore Deontae Ben cut in from the left and fired a shot that appeared to take a deflection towards the corner flag. It never got there because Craven was waiting to poke the ball off the far post and in for the leading goal.
The Titans tightened their choke on possession in the second half. It was a struggle for Roy to get past the halfway line, let alone keep possession for two or more passes.
That’s why Olympus was caught off guard when Ben picked up the ball at midfield and took it past three defenders, seeing his shot on goal pushed away for a corner kick.
Olympus had several close chances before and after that. None of them went in and when the final whistle blew, the Royals let loose the emotions of a tense second half and will travel to Brighton on Friday for a 4 p.m. second-round matchup.
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