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MILLVILLE — It was the strong start the Riverhawks were hoping for and it set the stage for a huge Thursday showdown against Green Canyon.

Ridgeline found the back of the net twice in the first 11 minutes and were aggressive in the attack the rest of the way en route to a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Sky View in a Region 11 girls soccer game on Tuesday night. The Riverhawks (9-6, 6-2 region) will now square off against the Wolves (11-2, 7-1) on the road in what is essentially the region championship match.

The Riverhawks played well at the start of both halves as they fired off the first seven shots of the opening half and the next four after halftime.

“Of course I’d like to finish more (scoring) chances,” RHS head coach Mark Tureson said. “I think that would help, but in a game where you’re playing a team like Sky View, we’ve got to play on the front foot. If we sit back and let them come at us, then that could have been a very different game. They’re very good, very fast, very pacey, so we had to jump (on them) as quick as we could before they built that momentum up.”

Ridgeline’s assertive style of play paid off in the seventh minute when an unmarked Halle Van Yperen finished top shelf inside the 18-yard box. The goal was set up by Addie Zollinger, who used a cheeky move to create plenty of space to whip in a cross.

The hosts struck again four minutes later courtesy of some very impressive combination play. Ridgeline strung together at least six straight passes and the final one from Van Yperen found Utah State commit Tenzi Knowles, who buried a beautiful strike from just outside the 18.

“It felt really good because it’s been a trend with all of our games where we connect so many passes together, and then we just get stuck right in front of the 18 and can’t finish,” Knowles said. “And so it just feels so good to finally get the ball in (after combining so well).”

To their credit, the Bobcats (9-5, 3-5) bounced back from their rough start and pulled a goal back midway through the opening half. A lovely left-footed rocket by Macy Hellstern ripped the back of the net from about 15 yards out. The goal was assisted by Mia Morrison.

Sky View had a golden opportunity to equalize later in the half when Amalia Fonua slotted a well-weighted pass to Addie Poulsen, whose shot went wide of the far post.

“It was a battle from the start and getting down 2-0 is tough,” SV head coach Jillian Carver said. “I’m proud of my girls for battling back and getting a quick goal. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t get another one. We had a lot of opportunities and we played well, we just needed one more goal to help us get there. But we will learn from this and be ready for Thursday.”

Fonua and Laney Gibbons had Sky View’s best scoring chances of the second half, with Fonua forcing Ridgeline goalkeeper Alivia Brenchley into a pretty challenging reaction save. Nevertheless, Ridgeline’s run-of-play defending was very good and the hosts didn’t give the visitors any breakaway opportunities — something Sky View excels at creating. Additionally, the Riverhawks limited the Bobcats to zero corner kicks.

“We’ve got very pacey wings that can get back and cover,” said Tureson, whose squad swept the season series with the Bobcats. “I think we just played very intelligent (with our marking) tonight. And the other side of it is you don’t let those (SV) forwards have clean touches. If you’re always bumping them ... that’s where their momentum breaks and that’s what we tried to do is we tried to get up into them, instead of letting them run at us.”

Meanwhile, the Riverhawks continued to test Bobcat keeper Grace Glover, who finished with 11 saves and had to face a few dangerous end line crosses. Alex Baer shined defensively and offensively from her outside back position for Ridgeline, which extended its winning streak to four and has netted multiple goals in all four of those matches.

OTHER REGION MATCHES

A stunning comeback allowed Green Canyon to remain in sole possession of first place in the region standings, while Logan broke through in the second half against Bear River.

Green Canyon trailed visiting Mountain Crest (7-7, 4-4) 2-nil, but rallied behind Ryley Thompson for a 3-2 victory. The senior recorded a hat trick in the final 10 minutes of the contest — the last two goals coming after the 77th minute — for the Wolves.

“Today in my mind was our breakout performance,” said GC head coach Sven Rasmussen, who side swept the season series with Mountain Crest. “We had to fight a good team, down two goals, and the mental battle all players face in that situation. ... Insanely proud (of our players). I feel insanely proud (with) the way they responded. Teams usually find themselves getting sucked into playing the way their opponent does. We were able to break that and play our way. ... I love my team.”

Each of Thompson’s goals were assisted by different teammates — Kaizley Holbrook, Emma DeBerard and McKenna Crane.

“Obviously very proud of Ry,” said Rasmussen, who added “every girl deserves praise.”

Keiera Nielson and Sadie Coggins found the back of the net for the Mustangs, who got an assist from Baylie Baldwin. Mountain Crest is the first team to score multiple goals against Green Canyon this season and only the third since the start of the 2019 campaign.

Meanwhile, Logan (9-6, 4-4) got second-half goals from Ashley Coppin, Tyniah White and Taylor Rose, who converted on a penalty kick, to dispatch of visiting Bear River, 3-0, and sweep the season series with the Bears (1-11, 0-8). Coppin’s goal was assisted by Alec Kennington.

Cadence Martindale went the distance in goal for the Grizzlies, who earned their fourth shutout of the season.

“I’m really proud of how my girls turned it around at halftime,” LHS head coach Natalie Norris said. “Bear River played a good, hard game against us. We struggled to find a rhythm first half and second half we battled more and were able to combine a lot better. It was very pleased with the effort I saw tonight.”

PRESTON MATCHES

It was a gratifying Tuesday for both Preston squads. The girls clinched the top seed in the upcoming district tournament from a come-from-behind 3-1 triumph over visiting Century (1-5-2, 0-2-1) while the boys earned a 1-1 road draw against the 4A power Diamondbacks.

Addison Moser helped account for all three goals by the Preston girls (7-6, 3-1), and all three of them took place after halftime. Moser scored twice, assisted by Isabel Gonzales and Sam Palmer, and facilitated a goal netted by Tessa Hyde.

“We gave up an own goal 10 seconds into the game and then struggled to get any attack going for the remainder of the half,” said PHS head coach Brandon Lyon, whose side also defeated Century earlier this season. “But something clicked at halftime and we looked as good as we have all season in the second half. Created some great opportunities and finally finished some of those chances.”

Kadin Reese equalized for the Preston boys midway through the second half and six minutes after Century (7-1-2, 2-0-1) took the lead. The Indians (6-5-2, 1-2-1) gave up two penalty kicks and lost to the D-backs 4-1 two weeks ago.

“Tight game,” PHS head coach Kira Matthews said. “Both sides played well. We played great from top to bottom. We connected well and had lots of opportunities. Our defense had a solid game and did what they needed to. Tayvin Dunkley led the backline and controlled our defensive game to keep Century (in check) and their shot count down.”

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

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