Editor’s note: This is the first in a two-part series profiling Cache Valley class of 2019 soccer players who have signed with college programs.

To say the 2017 season was a banner one for the Sky View girls soccer program is somewhat of an understatement.

After all, the Bobcats prevailed in their final 15 matches of the season and won their four postseason matches by a combined margin of 19-1 to capture the 4A state title in convincing fashion. Indeed, that Sky View side continually showcased its talent throughout the season.

How talented were the Bobcats that year? Talented enough that an impressive 10 of their players have signed with college programs. Four of them — Kylee Griffin, Samantha Tippetts, Sarah Spencer, Kelsea Cracroft and Claire Boman — graduated from Sky View in 2018, and the other five are part of the school’s 2019 graduating class.

Three recent Bobcat graduates have accepted scholarship offers and signed with Division I programs in Sidney Barlow (Utah State), Darcy Woodward (Gonzaga) and Sadie Noble (Weber State). Kasidee Lamb will take her talents to Dixie State University, while Emmie Woodward, Darcy’s sister, will compete for Yakima Valley College.

“It’s honestly mind blowing because I feel like most high school teams don’t really have many girls get the opportunity to play collegiate soccer, and just having all of us have this opportunity, it’s kind of made us closer and have a better bond,” Lamb said. “It kind of made us work harder and I think that’s what helped us earn that state championship, is we just wanted to be the best, and that also helped us just prepare so much for college.”

“It’s really special to know that we’re the first team in Sky View history to win a state championship ... and I’ll always remember that time,” Barlow said.

Tippetts, Spencer and Cracroft will be entering their sophomore seasons at Salt Lake Community College, as well Boman at USU Eastern. Griffin saw limited playing time as a freshman at Dixie State before electing to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As a freshman, Tippetts tied for the team lead with seven goals en route to earning second-team all-Region 18 honors. SLCC went 13-2-2 last fall.

The Bobcats were dark horse contenders to defend their state title in 2018, but would have been one of the favorites had Barlow not suffered a season-ending right knee injury the weekend before tryouts. The speedy and skilled striker was unstoppable at times on Sky View’s championship squad as she scored 24 goals and assisted on six others en route to securing first-team all-state accolades.

“Everything’s going great. I had surgery 11 months ago and I feel like my training is going great,” Barlow said. “I feel like 100 percent with my knee right now. I just haven’t played in a game since I tore it, so that’s what I was nervous about, but everything’s going awesome and I’m really excited.”

Barlow started receiving attention from collegiate programs early in her high school career. The Smithfield native verbally committed to the Aggies as sophomore.

“Once Utah State reached out to me I pretty much knew that’s where I wanted to go,” said Barlow, who was the 2017 Herald Journal co-All-Valley Player of the Year, along with Griffin. “That was my No. 1 school.”

The two sides remained committed, even when Barlow missed her entire senior season. Former Sky View star forward Jessica Brooksby also had a major knee injury in high school, but ended up developing into a first-team all-Mountain West selection at USU.

“(The Aggies) were awesome about it,” Barlow said. “Heather (Cairns), the coach, she was awesome about it and really encouraged me that I would be able to get back to where I was. And she just sent me a bunch of stuff on players that have come back 100 percent from an ACL tear, so it was really cool.”

The daughter of Janna and Todd Barlow is one of a handful of Cache Valley athletes who will be playing for USU this summer/fall. She will be joined by junior midfielder Paige Moser of Preston, sophomore forward Marli Niederhauser of Mendon, sophomore forward/defender Sammie Murdock of Providence and senior midfielder Kanyan Merrill of Providence.

“Sidney is an attacking juggernaut with a high soccer IQ and unrivaled engine,” Cairns said in a press release. “She brings creativity and improvisational skills in to our program.”

The Aggies are coming off a rough ’18 campaign in which they went 3-13-2, including 2-7-2 in the Mountain West. However, USU has enjoyed a fair amount of success under Cairns, who is the program’s all-time leader in wins and has posted an overall record of 154-117-37 during her time in Logan.

Noble and Darcy Woodward were also recruited by the Aggies, but ended up choosing other D-I programs. Noble liked the idea of being on her own, but also close to home, and ultimately signed with Weber State — an opportunity she is ecstatic about.

“I don’t know if I would have been able to attend a college if I didn’t get this scholarship without taking out tons of student loans, and so it means a lot to have a bright future,” she said.

The daughter of Stacey and Scott Noble is one of two local players who inked with the Wildcats this past fall. Mountain Crest graduate Lauren McConnell will also be joining Noble in Ogden this season. Additionally, former Mustangs Harlee Turnbow will be a redshirt sophomore defender for Weber State.

“It actually does make me feel quite a bit more comfortable because I kind of know Lauren McConnell,” said Noble, who’s a midfielder. “She’s one of the natives from Cache Valley and it was a lot nicer knowing that I get along with her great, so it actually helped (with the transition) a lot.”

Noble and McConnell will be coached by another former Mountain Crest athlete, Meagan Thunell, who was recently named Weber State’s interim head coach after spending 14 years as an assistant for the Wildcats. Long-time head coach Tim Crompton was hired as the university’s interim athletic director a couple of months ago.

Noble praised Thunell, a former Wildcat standout goalkeeper, and asserted “she’s a great coach” who did “a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff” when she was Crompton’s top assistant.

“I was happy that it was Meagan and not some random coach from somewhere else, just because one of the reasons why I did pick Weber State is because of the coaches, Meagan and Tim,” said Noble, who was a captain for her club team, La Roca, when it captured a State Cup title. “And so I was happy that it was Meagan and not someone else.”

The Wildcats went 9-5-4 last year, including 7-1-1 in league play en route to claiming the Big Sky Conference regular season title. Noble netted a pair of goals as a senior at Sky View.

Like Noble, Darcy Woodward will be competing for a team that fared well in its conference a year ago. Gonzaga is coming off a 10-4-4 season, including a 5-2-2 mark in the always tough West Coast Conference — one of the nation’s best mid-major conferences for women’s soccer.

“Yeah, I’m super excited,” Darcy said. “... For my college career I wanted a challenge and I think that’s what I’ll get playing in the West Coast Conference. And I’m just really excited to get to (the season) and to see my competition, and hopefully perform really well against that competition.”

The athletic Smithfield native is currently in Spokane, Washington, where she is training with the Bulldogs. Darcy earned first-team all-state as a junior for the Bobcats. The midfielder scored four goals as a senior.

“Darcy is a box-to-box midfielder who has the skill to dictate rhythm for us,” Gonzaga head coach Chris Watkins said in a press release. “She wants the ball all the time and can handle the pressure.”

The chance to play at the next level is something the daughter of Kate and Mark Woodward relishes.

“Playing Division I soccer has been the biggest dream of mine since I was a little girl, and I think it just goes to show that if you put in work for what you want it will pay off,” Darcy said. “But just like many people say nothing you get is entitled, so you have to earn it. And so I’m really excited because I think I’ve worked hard enough to earn it, so it means a lot to me that I put in the work to get here, not just that I was given the opportunity.”

Although Darcy is a long way from home, she is only about a three-hour drive away from my sister, Emmie. The relatively close proximity is something “we were definitely hoping for, and luckily is worked out,” Darcy said.

“Oh, it will be super fun,” Darcy said. “I’m excited because we’ll get to hang out on the weekends and do stuff together, come home (to Smithfield) together at the same time, so it should be really fun.”

Emmie will be competing for a junior college that is coming off a solid ’18 campaign. The Yakima (Washington) Valley Yaks went 11-5-2, including 8-4-2 in conference play.

The stellar forward was a big reason the Bobcats finished the regular season strong last fall and advanced to the quarterfinals of the 4A State Championships. Emmie racked up a team-best 11 goals, including a career-high four in Sky View’s 4-2 victory over Preston.

As close as the Woodward sisters will be in proximity, it will still pale in comparison to the Lamb sisters. Kasidee Lamb will be reunited with older sister, Kilee, who will be a redshirt senior defender for Dixie State. Kilee Lamb-Allsop shined as a junior as she led the Trailblazers with five assists.

“I was super excited to have the opportunity to play with Kilee because I actually missed her during my high school years because she was a little bit too old for me,” said Kasidee Lamb, who is a midfielder. “So I think that was one of the main reasons why (I picked Dixie). I’m just super excited to go down there and to be able to play soccer because I’ll have my sister to play with and it will just be a lot easier of a transition. It’s true (that) not a lot of people get to play (in college with a sibling), so I’m really looking forward to it.”

The daughter of Wendee and Troy Lamb garnered honorable mention all-state honors as a senior for the Bobcats. Kasidee Lamb netted three goals during her final prep season.

The Smithfield native will also have the opportunity to play with another local athlete, Logan’s Zoe Clark, who will be a redshirt sophomore forward for Dixie State.

The Trailblazers went 13-6-0, including 8-5-0 in conference play, a year ago. Dixie State will make the transition to the Western Athletic Conference and D-I athletics during the 2020-21 academic year.

Lamb, who was also recruited by Utah Valley and Idaho State, hopes she and her fellow former Bobcat teammates have motivated other local players who aspire to compete at the next level.

“You can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it,” Lamb said. “For all of those little soccer girls that are looking up to go up and play in college, it can happen for you. You’ve just got to believe in yourself.”

jturner@hjnews.com Twitter: hjtrebek

Jason Turner is a sports reporter for The Herald Journal. He can be reached at jturner@hjnews.com or 435-792-7237.