High school girls soccer: Defending champs all face a tough road ahead in 2014
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
The 2014 girls prep soccer season officially got underway last week, and some early favorites have already started to emerge.
Even though Brighton, Timpanogos, Dixie and Summit Academy won state championships last season, all four begin their title defense in 2014 with a slew of new starters dotting their starting 11s.
Conversely, several programs who came agonizingly close last year — Lone Peak, Skyline, Juan Diego and Waterford — return a ton of starters and are the early No. 1's in their respective classifications.
Here’s a class-by-class look at the upcoming 2014 season.
Since Alta won four straight state titles from 2006 to 2009, there’s been a different 5A state champion each of the last four years.
Lone Peak hopes to make it five straight new champions.
With virtually every starter back from last year’s semifinal team, the Knights are off to a strong start to the 2014 season and begin with the No. 1 ranking.
“Our core is back, and they’re healthy,” said Lone Peak coach Heather Dahl.
In two games already this year the Knights have outscored their opposition 11-0. The early finishing ability has been great to see for Dahl.
“We were young and creating opportunities last year and weren’t finishing them. So we’re doing a better job of finishing up top,” said Dahl.
As good as Lone Peak is, the race in 5A is realistically wide open. In Region 1, Davis and Viewmont are both expected to be good, while Alta and defending champion Brighton, of course, will be right in the thick of things.
Alta was 15-1-1 heading into last year’s quarterfinal game against Lone Peak, but lost in a shootout 5-4 on its home field, ending the careers of some brilliant high school players like Bizzy Phillips and Madie Lyons.
Only two starters — Whitney Paskins and Allie Millerberg — return from that team, but Alta coach Lee Mitchell is still very excited for the upcoming season.
“I feel good about our chances this year and our chances every year. We had a really good group of freshmen come in this year, and a real good group next year as well,” said Mitchell. “We’re inexperienced this year, but we should be competitive by the end.”
Defending champ Brighton won’t be quite as inexperienced as Alta, but graduating 11 seniors has definitely created some holes on the field. Finding the right blend of contributors between this year’s nine seniors and a talented junior class is the challenge in front of coach Mark Stoker.
“I’m thoroughly excited about the group. We have the potential; we have to come together as a team. You always get a boost after being there once,” said Stoker.
Over the past six years, Bonneville and Timpanogos have traded 4A state championships, with Timpanogos edging Skyline in last year’s title game.
Does that mean it’s Bonneville’s turn again? Not if Skyline has something to say about it.
Skyline returns its three leading goalscorers from last year, with juniors Holly Daugirda and Emmya Heyn and senior Jaslyn Masina having combined for 48 goals last year. Daugirda alone accounted for half of those with 24.
With 'keeper Hillary Weixler returning, and a slew of other starters, the Eagles are the early favorite in 4A.