SOUTH JORDAN — The Bingham High girls soccer team won just two games last season. For a team that has traditionally been very strong, finishing in the lower half of the region standings didn't sit well.
This year, however, the Miners are taking advantage of falling under the radar.
"I think everyone is putting us as an underdog, but we certainly don't feel that way," Bingham head coach Jenni Clough said after her team defeated fifth-ranked Pleasant Grove 2-0 on Thursday afternoon. "We won two games last year. We understand why we are the underdog, but we feel like we can play with anybody."
The Miners (8-3-0) showed they could keep up with their ranked opponents, jumping out to a two-goal lead just minutes into the game.
Senior Randy Sorenson scored the first goal when she broke away from the pack and drove up the right side of the field in the third minute. The Pleasant Grove goalkeeper stepped out, and Sorenson blew by her and sent the ball to the left corner of the net.
Six minutes later, Sorenson again found herself with the ball, this time on the end line. She sent it across the field and junior Carla Swensen corralled it and tapped it in.
"We came out in the first 10 minutes and scored, which is what we need to do," Clough said, "and then we kind of got complacent, I guess. We had the lead so we weren't pressuring how we needed to."
Bingham never allowed the Vikings to get too close to the goal, but at the midpoint, Clough let her team know they needed to pick up the intensity.
"I don't think we played the best soccer today, but we got the win. Our effort won us the game," she said, noting that the Miners controlled possession the majority of a physical second half.
Even though it didn't amount to another score, the Miners had a handful of shots on goal and multiple narrow misses in the final 40 minutes.
"I think we had the chances in the second half, we just couldn't finish the ball," Clough said. "On a couple of shots, (Pleasant Grove) had girls sliding in front of the goal. They're keeper did a really good job in the second half."
Bingham held off the Vikings (9-2-0), 5A's fifth-most potent offense, thanks in part to a great effort from defender Libby Weber.
"Weber held us strong in the back, she's always solid for us," Clough said of the junior. "She's just there; she's there to clean up everything. She's where she needs to be when she needs to be there all the time."
Add to that the skill set of goalkeeper Maddie Loftus, and the Miner defense is tough to crack.
"She's a freshman," Clough said of her keeper, who picked up her fourth shutout on Thursday. "She just came in and we have no choice but to play her. You saw her saves, she's just unbelievable."
Up next for both teams is a second trip through Region 4 play. With Thursday's victory, the Miners take a one-game advantage over Pleasant Grove and currently sit alone at the top of the league standings.
"We're just trying to take it one game at a time," Clough said of what is ahead of her and the Miners. "We understand that maybe now we'll have more of a target on our backs, maybe we won't be the underdog, so we've got to learn to play like that."
Copyright 2017, Deseret News Publishing Company