Buckle up, because it’s going to be a wild ride.
The first two weeks of the high school girls soccer season has already brought heartbreaks and upsets, and it’s only just begun.
There is no shortage of talent this year in Region 9, and the parity of teams this year is going to make getting a playoff spot more difficult than trying to snag that stubborn Pokémon that you just can’t seem to catch.
Desert Hills is a slight favorite of the group with Dixie, Cedar and Snow Canyon just right behind. But don’t count out Hurricane or Pine View either with both programs clearly on the upswing.
“A lot of people are calling us the favorites because we only lost two seniors,” said Benji Nelson, Desert Hills head coach. “It’s nice to be recognized, but preseason is just preseason. This region is always tough and there’s always some surprises every year.”
Last year, three of the four teams (Cedar, Desert Hills, Snow Canyon) in the 3A semifinals were from Region 9 and Coach Nelson expects that trend to continue.
“I do expect our region to be well represented again,” he said. “A lot of the teams were young last year and bring a number of starters back. I thought we had a great shot at the title last year with three region teams making it, but Logan played great and deserved to win.”
Luckily for teams in Southern Utah, Logan had a reshuffling with players given the option to attend Ridgeline High School — a new 3A school just south of Logan.
“With the new school opening up (Ridgeline) and taking some (Logan) players away, as well as those that graduated last year, it might be enough to put us over the top this year,” Nelson added.
The Thunder lose just two seniors in Kenzi Jones and Maddi Hansen, but bring back leading goal scorer Brooklyn Lott, one of three team captains (Brittany Moore, Brecken Dalley) this season.
Lott had 16 goals last year and will likely draw a lot of double and triple teams which will open the field for Dalley and Pine View transfer Kodee Bracken. Despite a very tough non-region schedule, the duo have already combined for five goals this year.
Despite not making a playoff appearance last year — a rare thing for Dixie — the Flyers are arguably the hottest team in 3A after outscoring its opponents 20-1 so far this season.
Eight players have scored at least one goal this year with Starlee Woodbury (six goals) and Kennedy Warnick (five goals) leading the way for the Flyers.
“I’m really happy with our performance so far,” said Dixie head coach Burt Myers. “Last year we were inexperienced and had a lot of injuries. But this year we are healthy and are faster than ever.”
Snow Canyon, which finished third in region play last year is off to a 2-2-1 start. The Warriors have picked up some nice wins — 9-1 over Mountain View (4A) — and should make a strong push for the region title.
After winning the 3A championship in 2014, Cedar came close but couldn’t put together a repeat performance after falling to Logan 3-1 in the title game last year. The Lady Reds are 1-2 on the season with tough losses to Juan Diego and Wasatch, but put together an impressive performance with a 4-0 shutout victory over rival Canyon View. Ashley Jenkins leads the team with three goals.
Abby Hall is Hurricane soccer’s leading scorer after playing as a defender last year
Hurricane is off to a perfect start after topping Canyon View 1-0 to improve to 4-0 on the season. The Tigers have already equaled the number of wins from last year and are led by Abby Hall who is having a phenomenal season. Hall has a team-high seven goals through four games and Kylee Stevens has two.
Pine View is off to a slow start this year but has proven that it can turn things around quickly. The Panthers look to improve upon last year’s quarterfinal appearance after falling to the defending champs.
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