Hillcrest soccer earns second place in region, loses in state playoff
For the second year in a row, the Hillcrest girls soccer team found itself staring down the best soccer players in the state. The Huskies finished the regular season in second place in Region 7 behind Skyline. Coach Megan Beckstead said the season was a success despite the first-round loss in the playoffs.
“The girls did well and made the playoffs so I’m happy with the way they performed,” she said. “They didn’t play as well as they could have. But every team in the state tournament ends on a loss except the state champion.”
Hillcrest finished the regular season on a high note. Three of the last five games resulted in a win with the other two ending in a tie. The Huskies finished the season beating Region 7 rival Murray, 2-0, on Oct. 2.
The first round of the playoffs on Oct. 9 gave Hillcrest the home field advantage. The Huskies took on Region 6 third seed Woods Cross. Hillcrest and Woods Cross each scored in the second half, forcing the game into overtime. Senior center midfielder Hannah Sutherland scored Hillcrest’s only goal.
But Woods Cross was able to capitalize on an opportunity, scoring in overtime and ending Hillcrest’s run at a title. This is the second year in a row that Hillcrest has made the playoffs. Beckstead said the girls had several opportunities during the game but couldn’t put it together.
“Our season was a success,” Beckstead said. “Taking second place in region is a big deal.”
Beckstead said next year could be a different story for the team. There will be 12 seniors leaving and that loss could be felt right off the bat. Senior Rylee Gritton led the team with 14 goals this season. Her ability to get the ball in the net will be missed but Beckstead said she’s confident the younger girls will step up and fill those shoes.
Several younger players have already had an impact on the team this season. Taryn Prichett started the year as a freshman in the center midfield position. Nicole Jessen was also a freshman and shared the goalie position with Audrey Kriss.
“We’ve got a lot of younger girls that we will need to step into the shoes of the seniors,” Beckstead said. “I’m confident they can. Hopefully it will be an easy transition.”
Beckstead said although winning is important, there are other lessons on the field she hopes the girls take away with them. Many of the team members weren’t just outstanding on the field, but also in the classroom. Sutherland is not only a varsity soccer player, but also a varsity cheerleader and a student body officer. And Torrey Wyatt was one of only 10 players in 4A to receive the Academic All State award.
“This game is about more than just winning,” Beckstead said. “It’s about creating a positive environment and a tight group of friends.”