NORTH LOGAN — What a difference a few days can make.
It was the kind of bounce-back performance Eb Heberling was hoping for from his Wolves five days after they conceded a pair of goals off set pieces early in the second half in a 2-0 setback to the Riverhawks.
Green Canyon's defending was resolute in the rematch, plus the Wolves were composed when scoring opportunities were available. The end result was a gratifying 3-0 victory over Ridgeline in a Region 11 girls soccer match on a chilly Tuesday evening.
"I'm so proud of our girls," Heberling said. "We sat and watched some film and really looked at things, and tried to figure out what we needed to get fixed. And we were able to make some adjustments and did well. But these girls, this was probably the most inspired I've seen them play, the most passion I've seen them play with."
The Wolves (6-7, 4-3) absorbed a lot of pressure, especially in the first half, but defended very well and were dangerous in the counter attack throughout the game. Green Canyon was able to score a big goal against the wind midway through the first half when Austin Miller tracked down a lovely Talia Winder through ball, calmly dribbled around the goalkeeper and finished into the open net.
Miller struck again in the 60th minute on a phenomenal left-footed strike from at least 30 yards out that tucked into the upper 90 of the far post. Lizzy Seeley was credited with the assist for the Wolves, who finished with 10 shots on goal.
Kyleigh Hastings put the finishing touches on Green Canyon's third clean sheet of the season on a breakaway in the 73rd. The freshman tracked down a well-weighed ball from Miller and slotted a well-placed shot low and inside the far post.
"It was awesome," Miller said of her side's well-rounded team performance. "We really just came out and played loose. But it's kind of just about having fun out on the field and not worrying about winning or losing."
Meanwhile, the Riverhawks (7-6, 5-2) were pretty crisp in possession for large spells of the rematch, but the final product wasn't quite there. Additionally, all but two of Ridgeline's shots were fired outside the 18-yard box. Standout freshman Emilee Skinner did have a good look inside the 18 early in the first half, but her strike was smothered by GC keeper Haylee Anderson.
"Green Canyon played inspired tonight, they really did," said Ridgeline head coach Mark Tureson, whose team was without all-state center Carly Eubanks for most of the first half after she tweaked her ankle. "I've got to hand it to them. They played well. On our end, it's the same story — and I think it can (apply) year after year — but this season we've got to find some girls that want to finish, not just kick the ball at the goal, but finish chances. And so, we'll keep working on it. If the girls can figure that aspect out, I think we'll be fine moving into the playoffs. We have a good group of girls."
The Riverhawks did test Anderson from outside the box a handful of times, but she was up to the challenge. The junior finished with eight saves and did a superb job of not spilling a couple of tricky shots that bounced in front of her, including one by Kayt Ward. Anderson came through with a big save on a well-orchestrated Ridgeline corner kick that eventually resulted in a shot by Caitlyn Parry, who is always dangerous from distance.
"Haley did awesome," Heberling said. "That was a great bounce-back game for her as well. You know, she's always a pretty solid keeper, she's always been a solid keeper and it's a matter of keeping her confidence up. And she was able to do that tonight."
Green Canyon's starting backline of Tabitha Wagner, Oakley Miller, Kamree Stewart and Winder were very well organized, plus the hosts received strong defensive contributions from Eliza Allen and Cambree Tensmeyer. Heberling was particularly pleased with Oakley Miller and asserted "that's the best I've seen her play all year."
"That's been a focus. That's been one of the big things I really pride myself on is teaching team defense and how to defend as a team, and we've really worked on it," Heberling said. "The set pieces has been what's been hurting us some, and we did well tonight. And the girls just continued to close down opportunities and keep (Ridgeline) outside (the 18-yard box)."
OTHER REGION MATCHES
Mountain Crest, 4A's top-ranked team, traveled to Logan and left Crimson Field with a 2-0 victory, while Sky View got revenge against visiting Bear River in a big way. The Bobcats netted three goals in each half en route to their first win in region play, plus sixth shutout of the season.
"These girls played so, so well tonight," SV head coach Jillian Carver said. "Despite the adversity we have faced, they showed up today and really showed what we are made of. I'm very proud of them, and we plan to keep rolling this way."
Macy Hellstern recorded a hat trick for Sky View, plus she assisted on another goal. Maysen McKay buried another free kick for the Bobcats, who also got goals from Kortnee Lamb and Amalie Fonua, and two assists apiece from Mia Morrison and Laney Gibbons.
Grave Glover went the distance in goal for Sky View (7-7, 1-6), which lost to Bear River (3-10, 1-6) by a 1-0 scoreline in Garland.
Meanwhile, the Mustangs (12-1, 7-0) scored once in each half on their way to beating the Grizzlies (4-8, 3-4) by the same score they did earlier this season. Hadli Barrera converted on what Logan head coach Natalie Norris called a "banger from 25ish yards out" in the first half, and Amelia Zilles added an insurance goal after halftime. Zilles assisted on Barrera's goal, while Baylie Baldwin was credited with an assist on Zilles' tally.
Jade Harris was in goal for Mountain Crest, which recorded its eighth clean sheet of the 2021 campaign. The Mustangs now have a two-game lead in the region standings.
"My girls continue to impress me every game," MC head coach Amber Hyatt said. "They continue to play a full 80 minutes and get the job done. They always play so hard and they should be proud of themselves. We had a lot of chances and I'll give credit to Milly Garren again. She played awesome against us. That girl is a brick wall, but I'm glad we were able to find the back fo the net a couple times."
Likewise, Logan head coach Natalie Norris was encouraged by what she saw from her side.
"Proud of the fight my girls showed again tonight, especially second half," she said. "We had some gutsy performances against a very solid team."
Both Preston teams were in action Monday. The boys hosted Century and prevailed by a 3-1 scoreline, while the girls lost to the Diamondbacks on the road, 4-2.
The Preston boys (6-5-2, 2-1-0) got a goal and an assist from Bryan Ricaldi, plus goals from Parker Kofoed and Bryan Bustos. Treyton Hendrickson assisted on Kofoed's finish in the opening half. The Indians scored twice in the second half to pull away and earn the series sweep with the D-backs (1-6-3, 0-2-1).
The Indians are peaking at the right time as they are unbeaten (3-0-1) in their last four matches.
"We came out a little sluggish in the first half, but woke up at halftime and starting pressuring and really stepping hard," Preston boys coach Kira Matthews said. "Had a lot of good opportunities. John Anderson gave us a big spark. Stratton (Daley) and Tyce (Shumway) both had really solid games, and Ricaldi was always working hard up top to be in a position to score or help us score."
Meanwhile, the Century girls (6-3-2, 2-1-0) found the back of the net twice in the second half to break away from a 2-2 halftime deadlock. Brinley Alder and Tessa Hyde scored for Preston (4-9-0, 2-4-0), which got assists from Samantha Palmer and Isabel Gonzales.
"Same issues we've battled with (and that's) inconsistency," Preston girls coach Brandon Lyon said. "We had some really great moments and some not-so-great ones. It's on me as the coach to figure some things out and make sure we are ready to play a full 80 (minutes). We've got four days of practice before we play again — the most we've had between games all season — so we'll use it well."