NORTH LOGAN — Early in the first half, Green Canyon’s Ryley Thompson used a great first touch to put herself in a prime goal scoring position, but she was denied on a one-v-one by Logan goalkeeper Cadence Martindale.
That near miss motivated the senior to finish her next opportunity, and that’s exactly what she did. Thompson scored on a shot Martindale mishandled in the 49th minute to help propel the Wolves to a 1-0 victory over the Grizzlies in a Region 11 girls soccer match on a cold and extremely windy Tuesday evening.
In the process, the Wolves increased their winning streak to five and they have only conceded one goal during that timespan. Additionally, Green Canyon is the only team to start Region 11 play with a 3-0 record.
“It feels pretty good,” Thompson said. “Everyone in our region’s pretty tough, so it’s nice to be 3-0 because we have good competition (around us), so it just makes us feel even better that we can beat good competition.”
The Wolves (7-1 overall, 3-0 region) had a few near misses in the first half, including a rocket of a strike by Kaizley Holbrook that struck the crossbar. It appeared Green Canyon was destined for a goal at some point, but it was going to be a stern challenge against a stingy Logan backline.
“We knew it was always going to be a tight match,” GC head coach Sven Rasmussen said. “Logan always plays us well. ... (Logan head coach) Nano (Norris) does a very good job setting up her team. ... We were very optimistic that we would get at least a goal, but knew we could defend well ourselves. McKenna Crane had a great tackle there at the end and Brooke made a couple of nice saves. But overall, it was a good team effort. A good defense always puts us in a position to win close matches.”
Indeed, it was another stellar defensive effort by Green Canyon’s experienced and unflappable backline, and Watkins made a couple of relatively challenging saves look pretty easy in the second half. Logan’s Carlie Jenkins fired off a couple of dangerous shots from distance, but Watkins used her 6-foot frame to snatch them out of the air.
The Grizzlies (5-5, 0-3) played better in the attack in the second half, but struggled to create opportunities in the 18-yard box. Logan’s Emma Browning did burst through the middle of the Green Canyon defense and into the heart of box late in the match, but Crane got a piece of her shot and it rolled harmlessly to Watkins to preserve the clean sheet.
“Honestly, I think one (scoring chance) just needs to go (in),” Norris said when asked what her side needs to do to break through following its third straight nailbiting loss. “I think we just need to get someone to hit a good goal in the run of play, and I think they’’ll start coming. But we’re working on our desire to score we’re working on our passion to get the ball in the back of the net. That is something that we’ve been lacking a little bit, but it’s starting to come.”
The Grizzlies were certainly unlucky on Thompson’s goal. It was a shot Martindale, who has been rock solid in goal all season long, would normally smother.
“Ninety-nine.nine times out of 100, that’s all hers and everyone makes mistakes and, honestly, I’m not worried about it,” said Norris, whose team received another strong defensive performance from center back Taylor Rose. “It is super gut wrenching because she had such a phenomenal game, but we also didn’t do our job of getting the ball in the back of the net.”
It’s unclear whether the wind was a factor on that particular shot, but it was definitely a hindrance throughout the match. A constant crosswind make it extremely difficult for the athletes to switch the point of attack, among other things.
“The weather always kind of makes a difference, but I feel like once you start getting into the game you don’t really notice it and you just focus on the plays in the game,” Thompson said when asked about the wind.
The Wolves almost netted an insurance goal late in the game when Holbrook missed the upper 90 of the far post by inches. A nice steal by Brooklyn Heap set up that chance for the Wolves, who recorded their fifth shutout of the season.
OTHER REGION MATCHES
There’s now a three-way tie for second place in the region standings between Mountain Crest (5-4, 2-1), Sky View (8-1, 2-1) and Ridgeline (5-5, 2-1). The Mustangs got a late goal from Amelia Zilles to beat the Riverhawks at home, 1-0, while the Bobcats (8-1, 2-1) pummeled Bear River (1-6, 0-3) at home, 8-0, in a match that ended 25 minutes early due to the mercy rule.
Zilles converted from close range to lift the Mustangs to a gratifying victory. Mountain Crest head coach Amber Hyatt praised the play of her back four of Avrie Selvage, Brittney Egbert, Rylee Nelson and Riley Baldwin, and was especially pleased with Selvage, who “really helped us shut down some of their key players.” Freshman Jade Harris went the distance in goal for the Mustangs and “made some great saves for us tonight,” Hyatt asserted.
“I thought my girls played really well tonight,” said Hyatt, whose squad posted its second clean sheet of the 2020 campaign. “I thought our possession was good. Overall, it’s nice to see the team rewarded for all their hard work with a win at home.”
Likewise, Ridgeline head coach Mark Tureson singled out the play of his defense, particularly Haley Anderson and Carly Eubanks, and keeper Alivia Brenchley. Tureson also felt his side “created really well (offensively), but lacked that final quality.”
Meanwhile, Sky View jumped all over Bear River and never looked back. The Bobcats exploded for six goals in the opening half. Addie Poulsen, Laney Gibbons and Shyanne Stokes scored two goals apiece for the Bobcats, who got one goal and three assists from Macy Hellstern. Keelie Johnson accounted for Sky View’s other goal, and Stokes, Amalia Fonua and Annika McCulloch were credited with assists.
Katie Finlinson and Jada Westover split the time in goal for the Bobcats, who earned their fifth shutout of the season.
“We played so well today,” SV head coach Jillian Carver said. “Despite the cold weather, we played our game and had fun doing it. I’m so proud of these girls who play as a team and all contribute to our success.”
It was a good day for the Preston boys, which prevailed at home against 5A side Highland, 3-1. The Preston girls traveled to Pocatello, Idaho, and lost to the Rams, 3-0.
Kadin Reese helped account for all three Preston goals as he scored what proved to be the game-winner and assisted on the other two. The two teams went into halftime deadlocked at 1-1.
Stratton Daley and Ty Miller also found the back of the net for the Indians (4-2-1). Reese converted on a Tyce Shumway corner kick.
“Overall, we played a great game,” PHS head coach Kira Matthews said. “We came determined and ready to play from top to bottom, start to finish. We connected today and played very well together. We were strong defensively and made very few mistakes. Every one of the boys played great today.”
As for the Preston girls (3-4-0), they were shut out for the second consecutive game.
“We are creating chances, we just can’t put the ball in the back of the net,” PHS head coach Brandon Lyon said. “Possession and ball movement was great today, we are just lacking the finishing product. ... Defensively, we were really good against a great attacking team in Highland. It’s just that if we aren’t scoring, any tiny mistake is amplified, and that’s the way it’s been the last couple of games.”