High school girls soccer: MVPs contributed to championship runs in tangible and intangible ways
Matt Gade, Deseret News
Across the state of Utah and all four girls soccer classifications, there is something each of the 2013 state championship teams had in common — they were all led by a dynamic player who made both tangible and intangible impacts on their team.
There is something the coaches of those four players agreed on, too. While describing their leaders, each stated, simply, "She will definitely be missed."
For their leadership both on and off the field, the four irreplaceable seniors have been named the 2013 Deseret News MVPs for their respective classifications. They are Nadia Gomes of Brighton, Sydney Oldroyd of Timpanogos, Hadli Gledhill of Dixie and Morgan Fox of Summit Academy.
5A: Nadia Gomes, Brighton
Gomes not only led the Bengals in scoring this season, she did so in spite of missing nearly three weeks of the season.
The senior forward was released from the Brighton squad to try out for, and then compete on, the U-19 Portuguese national team.
She returned to her high school squad at the beginning of October — just in time to play a role in helping the Bengals win seven straight matches en route to capturing the 5A title.
"She was playing with elite players, with the best in Portugal," said Brighton coach Mark Stoker. "She returned a step quicker, with better vision and combination play. She came back with a new confidence on the field."
Gomes totaled 16 goals in her 11 games this season and scored in six of the final seven matches after returning from Portugal. In the Bengals' 5-0 semifinal victory over Fremont, Gomes had three goals and an assist in a 12-minute span during the second half.
"We have been fortunate to have her on our team," said Brighton team captain Kami Djahanbani. "We wouldn't have won without her."
Although her abilities were loud, Gomes was a quiet leader who influenced her team through action and execution.
"She had a direct influence by way of statistics," Stoker said. "She is a great leader, a positive teammate — and she does it all through action."
Her work ethic and abilities both on the soccer field and in the classroom have led to Gomes continuing her soccer career next season at BYU.
"She's incredible," Djahanbani said. "From the outside, she is quiet. Once you get to know her, she is funny, witty and, on the field, unbeatable."
4A: Sydney Oldroyd, Timpanogos
Oldroyd is unlike any other goalkeeper Timpanogos head coach Natalyn Lewis has ever coached.
"Most goalkeepers are very intense," Lewis said. "Syd is happy-go-lucky. Her teammates just love to be around her."
Once the senior steps onto the field, however, "a whole new side of her comes out," Lewis said. "She is a competitor."
Lewis added that Oldroyd carries that competitive spirit into the classroom. In addition to soccer, Oldroyd is a talented pianist and has also been involved with the Timpanogos student council. She earned a place on the UHSAA Deseret News Academic All-State Team with a 4.0 grade point average.
Oldroyd's combination of being relaxed and competitive was a successful formula for the Timberwolves. On her watch, the 4A team won two titles and reached the championship game and quarterfinals the other two seasons.
She and the Timpanogos defenses totaled 33 shutouts, including eight this season alone. In 2013, the Timberwolves lost once, tied once and gave up just 12 goals all year.
"She has meant a great deal to us on the field," Lewis said.
Throughout her four years at Timpanogos, the goalkeeper has expanded her abilities in the net by improving her skills outside of it. Lewis used her on the field in practice in an effort to help her feel more comfortable coming off the line.
"She forced herself to be uncomfortable until it became comfortable," Lewis said. "It has really come to benefit her. Syd is a talented player on the field; she has done an incredible job there, too."
3A: Hadli Gledhill, Dixie
One day during the 2013 regular season, Gledhill stopped on her way to the Flyers' 5:45 a.m. practice to pick up a teammate who lived nearby. When she got to the house, it became clear her teammate was not yet awake and was going to be late.
Instead of leaving, Gledhill opted to wait — to help her teammate — and they arrived late to practice together.
"She knew there was a penalty for being late, that she could have missed starting in the game the next day," said Dixie coach Burt Myers. "Still, she chose to make sure her teammate would get there. She knew it was for the betterment of the team — and that is what was important to her."
Just as she did that day, Gledhill always put the needs of the team first.
"She is very conscientious and loyal to her teammates," Myers said.
Gledhill, a senior on the state champion Flyers, was also a talented defender. Her coach said her ability to play end line to end line throughout the game as well as cross the ball with acute accuracy made her an invaluable cog on the Dixie team.
"No matter where she is on the field," Myers said, "she always knows where the ball needs to be and knows where other players are. She is just a smart player."
Strong and speedy with a high soccer IQ, Myers added that Gledhill was an important part of what made the back line tick.
"She was the general on the field, our quarterback back there," he said, noting that the defense allowed just 15 goals all season and only five during Region 9 play.
"And she is not afraid of learning," Myers said. "She asks questions until she understands."
Dixie has improved each year during Gledhill's tenure, from not making the playoffs her freshman year to reaching the first round, quarterfinals, and then winning the title this season. Much of the improvement can be traced back to Gledhill and the positive impact she has had on those around her.
"She is great in the community. She is great in school. She is just very likeable," Myers said. "She just has those abilities of a great leader and she has worked her talents in her favor."
2A: Morgan Fox, Summit Academy
In just two varsity seasons, the Summit Academy soccer team has gone from nonexistent to 2A state champions. And Fox, a senior defender, has been there every step of the way.
"Morgan has been a huge asset to our team," said head coach Kyrstin Wingert. "She is so passionate about soccer. Her work ethic is inspiring. She came to practice each day as if it was her last practice. Plus she is both academically and athletically brilliant."
Away from the field, Fox is a well-rounded student-athlete. She participates in debate and earned a position on the UHSAA Deseret News Academic All-State Team.
On the field, she became a crucial leader to a young team that, after placing fourth in region play, rode its peak through the state tournament for a five-match winning streak and the state title.
"She is a natural leader. The girls automatically go to her," Wingert said. "She directs the back line and the girls respond."
Fox scored eight goals for the Bears — four during each season — but it was her foresight on that back line that made the biggest difference.
"She is one of the most composed players I have seen," Wingert said. "She is an intelligent player and she anticipates well. She sees everything beforehand."
Sarah Thomas earned a degree in Mathematics from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing an MBA at Westminster College. She has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008.