NORTH LOGAN — Back-to-back loses to Green Canyon and Mountain Crest during the first half of region play threatened to derail Ridgeline’s season, but the defending 4A state runner-ups were undaunted.
Instead, the Riverhawks have found their groove and their fifth straight victory was their most gratifying one yet. Ridgeline scored twice in a 10-minute stretch of the second half to earn a huge 2-0 victory over Green Canyon in a Region 11 girls soccer match on Thursday night.
The Riverhawks (10-6, 7-2) and Wolves (11-3, 7-2) are now tied for the top spot in the region standings with just one game remaining before the postseason.
“We want to defend our region title, or course,” RHS head coach Mark Tureson said. “That is big for us and to potentially share it with a team like Green Canyon, there’s nothing (bad) to take away from that, right? They’re such a good team. Do we want it outright? Of course we do (and) so do they. But after those two losses, we learned. We learned what we didn’t do (right), we learned what we can do.”
Thursday’s much-anticipated rematch was a hard-fought affair that featured good attacking soccer from both sides, and it was a game of inches at times. Case in point: Brenli Wolford gave Ridgeline a 2-0 lead in the 61st minute with a phenomenal strike that nicked the post on its way in the back of the net.
Early in the opening half, Green Canyon’s Kaizley Holbrook chipped a beautiful pass centrally to teammate Ryley Thompson, whose shot from inside the 18-yard box drifted just wide of the goal.
Ridgeline’s first goal was a rocket of a 40-yard free kick by Oakley Rasmussen that redirected off a Green Canyon player and past standout goalkeeper Brooke Watkins. Later in the half, Rasmussen pinged a screamer of a shot off the crossbar.
Indeed, the biggest moments of Thursday’s showdown were defined by a matter of inches.
“I don’t think we did anything wrong,” GC head coach Sven Rasmussen said. “That’s the interesting thing with soccer. You can play a game and not make a mistake, and still lose. Ridgeline is a very talented team, (with) very good attacking play. Sometimes it’s just the breaks, right? I’m not upset at all. They played well, we played well, and sometimes this just happens.
“... Do I wish I could have written the script differently? Of course, but at the end of the day, this is soccer. Sometimes it can be frustrating, sometimes it can be awesome. We noticed last game against Mountain Crest it can be awesome, and today we just saw the other side of it, but our girls are resilient and they’ll bounce back.”
Most of the opening half was contested in the middle third of the pitch as the two teams only combined for seven shots. Things opened up a bit in the second half, and it was the Riverhawks who ultimately took advantage of their scoring opportunities.
“It was a great team effort, being composed when it could have been frantic,” Tureson said. “We found feet, connected passes. That’s what I love to see. I love winning, but I love winning doing what we do best, and Green Canyon makes that so hard. They excel at such a high pace and it’s really hard to play against, so we have to slow it to our pace and find each other.”
It was a memorable defensive performance for the Riverhawks, who became the first Region 11 side to shut out the Wolves in 2020. Ridgeline keeper Alivia Brenchley came up with a big punch save in the 80th minute on a long free kick by Holbrook to preserve the clean sheet. Ridgeline, which now has eight shutouts on the season, limited Green Canyon to a pair of corner kicks, and that was a significant factor in the match.
“Our defense, we’ve become more connected, as well,” said RHS outside back Alex Baer, who cleared a ball off the mouth of the goal in the first half. “We’re a very new defense, so we’ve definitely had to work on things, but these past few games we’ve just focused on communicating. We do so much better at communicating and working for each other, covering each other. ... Our defense has been working so hard, so it means so much to me that we (got the shutout) because they’re a great team.”
Prior to the match, the Wolves honored a talented senior class of 10.
OTHER REGION MATCHES
Mountain Crest celebrated Senior Night with a 4-0 triumph over Bear River, while Logan came from behind to beat Sky View on the road, 2-1. The Mustangs (8-7, 5-4) and Grizzlies (10-6, 5-4) are tied for third place in the region standings.
Amalia Fonua found Addie Poulsen, who found the back of the net for the Bobcats (9-6, 3-6) with less than 10 seconds remaining in the opening half. Logan converted on a pair of corner kicks after halftime en route to sweeping the season series with Sky View, which recognized its four seniors Thursday.
Taylor Rose scored off a Alec Kennington corner, and then Kennington netted the game-winner for the visitors.
“I was pretty excited,” LHS head coach Natalie Norris said. “Sky View is a really tough and talented team this year. I’ve been really proud of how we battled back in both games (against the Bobcats).”
Meanwhile, the Mustangs scored twice in each half to secure a series sweep against the Bears (1-12, 0-9). Baylie Baldwin accounted for two goals and an assist for Mountain Crest, which recognized its six seniors prior to the game. Keiera Nielson and Andie Andrus also scored for the Mustangs, who got assists from Bret Everding and Addyson Sofonia.
“It was a fun Senior Night,” said MC head coach Amber Hyatt, whose team recorded its third clean sheet of the campaign. “Of course I’m happy with how my team played and how we were able to get four goals and a shutout. Can’t ask for much better. Hopefully, we can continue to play confident going into our last game and end the regular season on a high note.”
Both Preston teams ended their regular season on a high note. The Preston girls honored their eight seniors by blowing out Burley, 8-0, while the Preston boys got revenge against Burley, besting the Bobcats 2-1 on the road.
Addison Moser netted four goals for the Lady Indians, who also got goals from Sam Palmer, Abigail Lyon, Aimee Harris and Tessa Hyde. Hyde had a trio of assists for Preston (8-6-0), while Ashley Lowe-Anderson, Sydnee Marlow, Isabel Gonzales and Lyon were also credited with assists.
Marlow and Hadlee Ezola split time in goal for Preston, which notched its fifth shutout of the season.
“It was a good way to celebrate Senior Night and wrap up the regular season,” PHS head coach Brandon Lyon said. “We played good soccer and it was good to get a lot of girls some good minutes.”
Parker Kofoed gave the Preston boys a 1-0 lead in the first half, and Ty Miller scored the game-winner for the Indians (7-5-2) after halftime. Miller’s goal was assisted by Stratton Daley.
“It feels good to have some momentum,” PHS head coach Kira Matthews said. “We know how good we can play when we show up and are ready and in the right mindset.”
The Preston boys will host Pocatello in the district tournament next Tuesday afternoon, while the top-seeded Preston girls will host the winner of Tuesday’s Century/Poky showdown on Thursday afternoon.