Ravell Call, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Year after year, the perennial girls soccer powers steal the spotlight, dominating in their respective regions and battling their way to Rio Tinto Stadium.
However, the journey does not always result in a state championship. Because, just as prevalent as powerhouse domination, the so-called underdogs emerge in the finals to steal the crown.
History has proven the road to class supremacy is rocky when regions collide and the supposed less-competitive regions unveil their Cinderellas.
Any one team can rise to the top, but the landscape is often familiar and much is to be said about experienced returners and solid rosters. Here's a brief look at how things are shaping up in each classification:
Alta head coach Lee Mitchell possesses both and a repeat title could certainly be in the cards. He is seemingly dealt a worthy hand each year and has built a program of unmatched prestige.
The Hawks were last year's 5A state champs and this year boast several returning threats, such as Madie Lyons, Bizzy Phillips and Lindsey Butts. The Hawks have unparalleled protection in the net with one of the state's best goalkeepers, Elyssa Hashimoto.
"We have a bit of experience, some inexperience but they are working," Mitchell said. "We'll get there. We'll grow as the season goes along. I think there are going to be quite a few different teams, that if they get going right, can do some serious damage."
Viewmont (4-0) is one of those teams. The Vikings are sure to be in the running again under the direction of new coach Emalee Tate, as they also benefit from several returners, including Abbie Flandro, Courtney Wallis, Heidi Lorscheider and Ella Johnson.
Sophomore Karrie Pead has been sparking the offense as well, complementing the veteran leadership alongside other fresh talent.
According to Tate, the girls have a new mentality and are seeking redemption after back-to-back championship losses.
Davis is another common front-runner, with three convincing victories over worthy opponents. The Darts are looking for a more balanced scoring effort after losing offensive standout Kenzie Harrison. So far there have been seven different goal scorers in three games.
"We need to do it by committee," head coach Souli Phongsavath explained after a victory over Bingham. "We have some young girls that we're counting on, some freshmen and sophomores that are going to be our goal scorers. We need them to step up and so far they have."
Another team relying on an offensive committee, the Brighton Bengals, will be a favorite as they have yet to surrender a goal and crushed a talented Riverton team recently. The Bengals return offensive leader Mati Long, though the scoring is evenly dispersed.
Lone Peak tied the Bengals, 0-0, and has been unyielding on defense. Its ability to hold Brighton scoreless is surely evidence of future success.
Riverton, despite a 6-0 loss to Brighton, is another talent-laden team led by potent scorers Mallory Bostic and Darian Jenkins. Jenkins will leave her mark before going to compete with the U.S. National Team next month.
Pleasant Grove tops Region 4 with a 5-0 record, Layton is undefeated, Fremont barely lost to Alta 4-3, and several other viable teams have yet to be truly tested. It is far too early to count anyone out of the 5A race.
Timpanogos, last year's 4A state championship team, will look to rebuild after losing leaders Jamie Harward and Lexie Henrie.
Despite a 1-2 record, the Timberwolves' future looks bright. Jordyn Chung-Hoon – the team's leading scorer last year — and goalkeeper Sydney Oldroyd will lead the way. Oldroyd snagged 11 shutouts in 2011.
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