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The City Journals

Brighton comes up just short of winning boys lacrosse title

Jul 03, 2019 03:57PM ● By Josh McFadden

Josh Nydegger (in the dark jersey), shown here in action this past season, had 46 goals and 28 assists. (Photo by Dani Johnson)

By Josh McFadden | [email protected]

In heartbreaking fashion, the Brighton boys lacrosse team lost in the championship game of the state tournament to Park City, 8-7, on May 18. The tough defeat ended the Bengals’ season and left the team with an 18-4 record. 

Brighton also lost to Park City in the regular season finale May 1 by the score of 10-8. 

In the finals, juniors Blake Yates and Kyler Kehl each had two goals, while Owen Smith, Josh Nydegger and Ben Bunker each added a score. Yates also had a pair of assists in the hard-fought contest. 

The road to the finals wasn’t easy. Brighton had to tangle with three talented foes, and each game was challenging. In the first round on May 7, the Bengals edged East 5-4 in a defensive struggle. Brighton then prevailed over Davis in the quarterfinals on May 10 by the score of 15-10. Next up was Corner Canyon, which Brighton had defeated 10-8 on April 19. This semifinals matchup was similarly close, but the Bengals came out on top 12-9. Nydegger and Kehl each scored three times, with Kehl also dishing out three assists. 

With few exceptions, Brighton’s offense was a force, churning out goals in big numbers. The Bengals had at least 10 goals in 13 of their 18 regular season games. On the year, the team averaged nearly 13 goals per game and had a season high of 22 in a 17-point blowout of Logan on March 12.

The Bengals also got to take part in a tournament in California where they faced a trio of teams from the Golden State, Feb. 28–March 2. Brighton won two of the contests, 12-7 and 12-11, and dropped the third one 16-9. 

The team had no shortage of contributors on the field. Yates led the way in both goals (47) and assists (34), but Nydegger wasn’t far behind with 46 goals and 28 assists. Kehl made it difficult for opponents to stop Brighton, as he added a third offensive punch to the attack. He tallied 42 goals land 23 assists. Carter Budge had 28 goals and 32 assists of his own, while Bunker’s haul was 24 goals and 10 assists. Josh Nelson, Karson McMillin and Matthew Crillo each had 22 points (goals and assists combined) on the season. 

The defense was tough as well. Brighton only allowed six of its 22 opponents to top nine goals in a game. The Bengals surrendered just three goals to Jordan in a 16-point rout on March 27. They also gave up four goals on five other occasions. 

Senior goalkeeper Curtis Canyon stopped 123 shots for a save percentage of 51. Junior Garrett Lazaro also spent some time in the net and made 19 saves at a clip of 61%. 

Next school year, the Bengals will have the backing of the school district and the Utah High School Activities Association, as lacrosse becomes a sanctioned sport.