SMITHFIELD — — Losing six games in a row was certainly something an experienced and talented Sky View side was not expecting during the 2021 season.
A lot of teams would have, quite frankly, continued in their downward spiral, but to their credit the Bobcats did not. Instead, Sky View was dauntless in its willingness to regroup and redefine itself and, as a result, will enter the postseason with a four-match winning streak.
Sky View scored twice in the first nine minutes on its way to a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Green Canyon in a Region 11 girls soccer match on Thursday night. Region play concluded Thursday at the 4A State Championships will start next Wednesday.
“I would say No. 1 is playing as a complete team, all 11 players on the team playing together, finding the rhythm together,” said SV head coach Jillian Carver when asked what has made the difference during her team’s last-season surge. “And then I would say our defensive shape has become a lot stronger, and that’s really helped us change this momentum.”
Indeed, it was a gratifying evening for the Bobcats, who honored their nine seniors and then pranked their head coach following the game. The players ambushed Carver with three pie tins full of whipped cream — — her husband was the mastermind — — in celebration of her 31st birthday.
Additionally, it was sweet revenge for the Bobcats, who lost to the Wolves (8-8, 6-4) by the exact same scoreline last month.
“It’s such a great feeling, especially with it being Senior Night,” SV senior Macy Hellstern said. “You know, it kind of just made us want it more and especially us seniors, it being our last game on this field, it feels good to beat our rivals in our last game in region (play). It was a good night.”
Both teams are evenly matched and that set the tone for some entertaining soccer, particularly in a back-and-forth first half. However, it was Sky View (10-7, 4-6) that got off to a memorable start as Laney Gibbons buried a lovely right-footed shot from about 20 yards out in the seventh minute.
The Bobcats struck again less than two minutes later when Hellstern headed in a Gibbons corner kick. Green Canyon goalkeeper Haylee Anderson came through with a nice punch save on a shot from distance by Maysen McKay, but Sky View converted on the ensuing set piece. Anderson denied Hellstern with a diving save later in the half.
“Yeah, I think that really set the tone, getting those goals early on in the first half, just setting the tone of, ‘we’ve got this and we’re going to battle through the whole match,’” Carver said.
Green Canyon’s response to a 2-nil deficit was ideal. Emma DeBerard’s lengthy free kick sailed just a few inches over the goal later in the half, and the senior was flat-out unlucky in the 21st minute as her shot caromed off the underside of the crossbar. Sky View keeper Grace Glover then made a big save on the ensuing rebound in heavy traffic.
A few minutes later, Green Canyon freshman Capriel Winder fired a shot from distance that was destined for the back of the net, but Glover deftly punched it over the bar. However, Glover had no chance on an absolute banger by Kyleigh Hastings, another talented GC freshman, in the 34th. Hastings dribbled at least 15 yards and unleashed a right-footed strike inside the far post.
“Sky View came out strong and are playing well right now,” GC head coach Ed Heberling said. “They were able to jump on us early and put us on our heels. Our team responded well and was able to generate numerous scoring chances, but couldn’t put the tying one away. Grace Glover made some great saves to keep us from putting more in the net. Our girls are resilient and will learn and bounce back from this game.”
Legitimate scoring opportunities were hard to come by in the second half. Gibbons had a very good look well inside the 18-yard box, but fired her shot into the side netting outside of the right post. Hastings tracked down a well-weighted pass later in the half, but Sky View’s Hannah Womack destroyed the attack with a well-timed slide tackle.
“We just needed to pressure a little bit faster, be a little bit tighter when they got the ball and take away those options fast, and I think we did that,” Carver said of her side’s second-half defensive adjustments. “And so it was awesome to see.”
The Wolves had one final opportunity to equalize in literally the final two seconds of the match. Green Canyon speedster Cambree Tensmeyer arrived at the ball at essentially the same time as Glover, and the loose ball fell to the feet of a GC player, who skyed a rushed shot over the goal.
Ridgeline (9-7, 7-3) made the short drive to Crimson Field and left with a 3-0 victory over short-handed Logan (5-11, 3-7), while region champion Mountain Crest (14-2, 9-1) traveled to Garland and scored twice in each half en route to a 4-0 triumph over Bear River (3-13, 1-9).
The Mustangs had four different goal scorers in Baylie Baldwin, Sadie Coggins, Hadli Barrera and Lexie Coggins. Baldwin and Sadie Coggins also contributed with assists for Mountain Crest, as did Addyson Sofonia and Ali Myers.
Dakota Andersen went the distance in goal for the Mustangs, who secured their ninth shutout of the season.
“We played well tonight,” said MC head coach Amber Hyatt, whose side has netted multiple goals in all 16 matches. “We played a full 80 minutes and finished some beautiful goals. I also enjoyed seeing so many different people score. Love to see the hard work in practice translate to success in a game.”
Meanwhile, the Riverhawks pulled away from the Grizzlies with a pair of goals after halftime. Emilee Skinner finished with a goal and an assist for Ridgeline, which also got goals from Addie Zollinger and Adeline Fiefia. Macie Brown and Caitlyn Parry were also credited with assists.
Lily Loyet was in goal for the Riverhawks, who recorded their seventh clean sheet of the season.
“Really happy with our ball movement and build-up play,” RHS head coach Mark Tureson said. “It was very good tonight. Our finishing still is lacking. For the amount of opportunities we created, we should have had more (goals). Credit to Logan’s goalie. She (Milly Garren) took five or six shots right off our players’ feet, some really good saves.”
Tureson singled out the play of midfielder Brenli Wolford, who “was everywhere we needed her to be tonight.”