It isn't exactly a earth-shaking statement to say that schools from Region 1 and Region 2 have traditionally dominated 5A boys soccer. Aside from Bingham's run to the championship in 2001, every 5A champion since 1997 resides in those two regions.
Heading into this year's 5A tournament, which begins with first-round contests at home sites today, the question is, will that trend continue?
On paper, there's no reason not to think it won't, and perhaps a better way to frame the discussion is to ask, just how dominant will 5A's usual suspects be this year?
Take a look at the 5A brackets, and you quickly realize that it's conceivable that Region 1 could go 5-0 in the opening round and that Region 2 could go 3-0. Schools like No. 5 Lehi, the Region 4 champ, and Riverton, the Region 3 champ, will clearly and understandably believe that such scenarios won't come to fruition.
However, until those schools prove it in the postseason as the Region 1 and Region 2 schools have previously done on so many occasions they'll be considered underdogs.
Of today's eight matchups, arguably the three most interesting ones arguably involve the three lowest-seeded teams from Region 1 No. 3 seed Weber, No. 4 Layton and No. 5 Davis.
Riverton has been building and building its program for some time, and having captured two of the last three Region 3 titles and having advanced to the quarterfinals a year ago, the obvious next step for the 'Wolves is to make to the semifinal round.
Whether they can get there this year with stars Ryan Smith and Nate Swank leading the way remains to be seen, but it won't take long to figure out whether they're capable. That's because they face a very good Davis bunch, which has struggled to score goals all spring but can be about as dangerous as anyone, in the opening round.
Besides that contest, watch out for Layton at Lehi and Weber at Lone Peak. If anyone was indeed watching for a sweep by Region 1 and Region 2, these two games would be particularly important.
In both instances, the Utah County teams Lehi and Lone Peak get to play at home and are the higher seeds. However, while Layton and Weber might not strike fear into the hearts of some of this year's heavy favorites, both have long histories of playoff success and know how to get the job done in pressure situations.
On the other hand, Lone Peak is very young and Lehi is new to Class 5A.
Other notable first-round matchups include No. 3 Alta at Copper Hills Copper Hills took the Hawks to OT earlier this season and Timpanogos at Fremont.Particular attention should also be paid to Hunter at No. 2 Jordan and Pleasant Grove at No. 4 Viewmont, as Jordan and Viewmont will meet in a mammoth quarterfinal showdown if they both win on Day 1.
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