The Braves have had an interesting beginning to their spring sports seasons thanks to a record winter as far as the snow fall was concerned, pushing back a number of their home events or cancelling them outright. As a result, the home opener for the boys and girls soccer teams has been waiting patiently for over a month now but on Saturday Star Valley’s faithful were finally given a glimpse of home soccer in 2023 as the Braves and Lady Braves took on the Rock Springs Tigers.
Starting with the boys action Junior Benitez proved to be an issue all day for the Braves scoring twice in the first half, once just 10 minutes into the match and again just 13 minutes later to give the Tigers the 2-0 advantage early into the contest. Star Valley played tight defense throughout the game however against one of the top teams in 4A and that kept them in the match for a majority of the afternoon, especially after Jesus Allred managed to find the ripple of the netting less than 4 minutes into the 2nd half, which seemed initially like a potential catalyst to turn the game around as there was nearly and entire half remaining and it was suddenly just a 1 goal game.
Unfortunately for the Braves they would not find a way to cross that goalline again for the remainder of the contest as the offense just had no answers for a really stout Rock Springs defensive unit who have only allowed 11 goals in 10 games all season to this point, the 3rd best defensive total in the 4A west. The Tigers would seal the win with an Alex Herrera tap in off a rebound with under 2 minutes left to play to make the score 3-1 and give his squad the 2 goal advantage with not nearly enough time for the Braves to overcome it.
The girls squad didn’t fair much better against an equally elite Rock Springs girls team as their mens team, the Lady Braves fought hard and had the game tied at 2-2 at one point early in the 1st half, but Rock Springs would pull away and ultimately take the win back home with them on the bus by a score of 5-2. Aubrey Yantis continued her remarkable senior campaign for the Tigers netting a hat trick in the 1st half of the match including the 1st goal of the contest just 14 seconds into the proceedings as well as her 3rd goal of the afternoon in the final 4 minutes of half number 1 which really helped quell any momentum the Braves might have been trying to get going as it lifted the Tigers lead from just 1 to 2 heading into the break.
The Braves kicked off the game in fast-paced fashion going down 1-0 just 14 seconds in as previously mentioned but answering with a Willow Aullman goal 3 minutes later to even the score. The Tigers got their lead back less than 2 minutes after that with the 2nd Aubrey Yantis goal of the contest only to see the Lady Braves continue to show their grit and tie the game once again off the foot of Daniella Smith 6 minutes later, a total of 4 goals scored in the 1st 22 minutes of the game but unfortunately that was the end of the scoring for the Burgundy and Gold.
Rock Springs has a top 5 ranks 4A squad on both the boys and girls side so no surprise that they came ready to ball out even if it was their opponents home opener, but the Braves showed a lot of fight in these games hanging in there with one of the true big dogs of 4A soccer, we shall see if the Braves can capitalize on that momentum and experience going forward.