After loss to Desert Hills, coach says Crimson Cliffs girls soccer has room to grow

Crimson Cliffs girls soccer huddles up before the start of their game against Desert Hills, St. George, Utah, Aug. 29, 2019 | Photo by Ryne Williams, St. George News

ST. GEORGE —The young Crimson Cliffs Mustangs are still winless after playing against Desert Hills Thursday night in a Region 9 matchup.

Crimson Cliffs plays against Desert Hills in girls Region 9 soccer, St. George, Utah, Aug. 29, 2019 | Photo by Ryne Williams, St. George News

“I think it’s just us being young. A lot of these girls play club together, on three different clubs. Coming from different schools, a lot of us are still trying to get to know each other, and that’s just being a new program,” Mustang head coach Andy Yergensen said. “It’ll be neat next year coming back, and having everybody know each other with a new group of freshmen coming in.”

Crimson Cliffs lost to Desert Hills by a score of 2-0, but with 17 of the 23 players on their roster being underclassmen, according to Maxpreps, they are indeed a young team.

There are some good things to take away from the season to this point, Yergensen, such as the play of the Crimson Cliffs goalies. Both sophomores, Whitley Stookey and Ellie Nielsen have impressed their head coach. Nielsen made plenty of saves in the Mustang’s loss to Desert Hills and handled pressure throughout the game.

“In one of our first games, the announcer called her (Nielsen) ‘the monster,’ and I think it was fitting. She’s getting better each game, she’s able to read the ball, and her footwork is getting better,” Yergensen said, “When she gets one v ones, she is able to come out and force the offensive player to make a play.”

Another struggle the Mustangs have faced is the fact that their own turf field isn’t finished. With a subcontractor quitting, and some problems with the paint on the turf, getting on a regulation field has been a problem.

Crimson Cliffs High School’s new turf field will use the latest technology to reduce injuries and concussions, Washington City, Utah, date not specified | Submitted photo, St. George News, file photo.

“Yes, a lot of our practices are on the middle school swamp area, as the football team calls it. It’s just a very limited, small field, with small goals,” Yergensen said. “So we don’t even get to practice on full-sized regulation goals, or a full-regulation-sized field, and it bothers us. It’s definitely not to our advantage to come out and not have a field to play on.”

To help the soccer team, the cities of Washington and St. George have opened other fields for the team to use, and Yergensen is appreciative of that.

“We’ve sure been waiting, and waiting, and waiting. A lot of our players would go out onto the field months ago saying, ‘It’s almost ready.’ It’ll help our identity, because right now, we don’t feel like we have a home,” Yergensen said. “We have to go to other teams sites and play home games. We’re excited to get our home field and our home turf.”

On the winning side of Thursday’s game, Desert Hills head coach Benji Nelson spoke on his experience with starting a new program from scratch after the game.

“I’ve been at high schools where we started, and they hadn’t won a game. That first year is all about building your program, building confidence and helping the team gain confidence in you as a coach knowing you will be positive and help them out,” Nelson said. “He doesn’t have the seniors and the juniors this year, so the expectation isn’t up there, but if they’ll work hard and stick to being positive, while creating a culture, they’ll have a lot of success.”

Next week, Crimson Cliffs will play Canyon View on Tuesday, the only other winless team in Region 9, and Hurricane on Thursday, which is currently second place in the region. Both of those games will be played on the road.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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