ST. GEORGE — Region 9 play opens up tonight for the 2017 girls soccer season. Records and the scoring plus-minus vary from team-to-team, but do not count any of them out. The move to 4A will make the hunt for a championship more difficult, but all the more worth it. Here is a quick preview of each team:
DESERT HILLS THUNDER
Last year, the Thunder were the one seed for Region 9 going into the playoffs, but lost to Ridgeline in the first round. This year, the team split their non-region bouts, winning two games against Orem, and losing to 6A schools Syracuse and Fremont.
The Thunder return four key players in Kodee Bracken, Drew Morby, Jessica Mathis and Kylee Westhoff. Tania Crosby has also proven to be a key contributor, scoring two goals in four games. Morby has also scored two goals in four games.
“Region 9 is the toughest region,” DH head coach Benji Nelson said, “We have seven quality teams here. There are no easy games. Every team comes to play and you never know what you’re going to get. You have to come prepared and give 100 percent.”
SNOW CANYON WARRIORS
The Warriors have already established themselves as the team to beat this year as they ended a 44-game winning streak held by the 6A Davis Darts, who were the No. 1 team in the nation in 2016.
Snow Canyon also tied its first game against Copper Hills and lost a tight battle to East only days ago. The Warriors’ scoring plus-minus is at 0, only scoring and allowing three goals.
Head coach Kenny Kunde said Region 9 will be as tough as ever, regardless of classification.
“Region 9 is always difficult,” he said. “The coaches are great and the kids get better and better each year. The rivalries are really intense. Teams are going to be better each year. This is probably the toughest region in 4A.”
Goalkeeper Megan Rodgers provides experience between the pipes and with key players such as Grace Call, Heidi Smith, Ashley Brindley, Samantha Lindsey and Brielle Hoskins returning, the Warriors will be the team to beat in Region 9, and have a great chance to make a run to the 4A state championship game.
The Flyers did not make the playoffs last year, but show a lot of experience this year. Junior Kennedy Warnick scored six goals last year as a sophomore and will look to have another stellar year. Kelcee Call and Lindsey Barben, who both scored three goals last year, will also be returning from injury at some point this season.
The Flyers have new coach Sam Gibbs this year and will look to be the dark-horse team of Region 9. Coaches and players both have high hopes for this team.
Gibbs, on those expectations, said, “We hope to surprise a couple teams. I expect us to win some games and secure a spot in the postseason. From there it takes four strong games and a little luck. We are capable of that.”
CEDAR LADY REDS
However, Cedar played a difficult preseason schedule (Spanish Fork, Viewmont, Wasatch and Bonneville). The Lady Reds return Ashley Jenkins, a four-year player who has scored 10 career goals so far, and Julia Hunt, who had 10 of her 22 career goals last year. These two players will be key for the team to return back to the playoffs this year.
Look for coach Scott Kamachi to lean on these two players heavily this year, as well as develop his younger players for the future.
Hurricane returns both Kylee and Lena Stevens, who have scored two goals each this year, as well as Jayden Langford, who has already scored more goals this year than last.
With an experienced team and the scoring onslaught put on so far, expect the Tigers to compete for the region’s top playoff spot.
PINE VIEW PANTHERS
Whitney Christensen, the lone returning senior, will more than likely be relied on as a mentor for the younger players. Christensen will be able to give good advice Cierra Barber, a freshman who could be the next star of Region 9, and Tiara Cafferty, a junior who can be the leader of a more experienced team next year.
It is hard to tell if the Panthers can compete for a playoff spot this year, but they do have a lot of potential to surprise a few teams. The team will continue to improve with each game and more improvement will be seen by the final game compared to these non-region games.
Do not be surprised if Pine View surprises a few teams and sneaks into the playoffs for a big confidence boost to the younger players.
CANYON VIEW FALCONS
This year, the Falcons look to move deeper into the playoffs. With five returning key players, including senior goalkeeper Jessica Hinck, the Falcons have outscored their opponents 17-0. Morgan Haag has nine of those goals, scoring six of them against North Sanpete.
Despite the stronger region this year, the Falcons are set to make a deep run in the 4A playoffs.
Overall, Region 9 has great potential to have the 4A champion. Teams will be tougher in the playoffs, but region play will prepare each of these teams for the challenge.
StgNews Region 9 Media Poll
- Snow Canyon
- Desert Hills
- Canyon View
- Pine View
This week’s games (games are 7:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted)
Canyon View @ Hurricane
Cedar @ Deseret Hills
Snow Canyon @ Pine View
Pine View at Dixie
Canyon View at Cedar (4 p.m.)
Desert Hills at Snow Canyon
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