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Midvale Journal

Hillcrest soccer: Heading to the top

May 05, 2021 08:55AM ● By Julie Slama

Hillcrest junior Jose Cortez dribbles ahead of his Olympus opponent in the win over the Titans. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

It’s good to have goals. 

Just ask the Hillcrest boys soccer team.

As of press deadline, the Huskies amassed 15 goals, resulting in 4-4 overall, 3-2 in 5A region play, and are making progress on the team goal of becoming better each game. 

Using their feet and their heads (both physically and mentally), they’re heading to the top of what Hillcrest coach Brett Davis calls “a pretty solid region.”

Early season, Davis said Brighton “will rank high, with lots of seniors” and he expected Murray and Skyline to play well. Five games in on the season, those are three of the top four teams, with Highland also in the top of the region.

Davis said he liked what he saw in their first home region game, a 2-0 win against Olympus.

“That was a big win for us; they’re a perennial powerhouse,” he said. “It was a nice confidence booster.” 

Since then, the Huskies defended their home field with a 2-1 win over East and 3-1 over first-ranked Brighton.

“We played very well and kept the pace for a full 80 minutes—total team effort,” Davis said giving Brighton its first region loss. “I expect us to be in the top half (of region) this year. We can rival anyone on a given day.”

Even in their losses, Davis has found the positive.

“We were able to string 10-15 passes together,” he said. “It’s exciting to see where their potential can take them the next several years.”

Davis said that his team is small in size, so his game plan is to outsmart their opponents.

“We’re young and not super big,” he said. “We’re learning to play together and learning our game well enough to be smarter. We may not beat them physically, but we can beat them mentally.”

Davis said that he’s wanting the players to see what collectively they can do and to learn to trust themselves and each other.

“We’re wanting them to learn what to look for, to see things, make decisions, improve their skills. We want to improve each time we step on the field,” he said.

Younger players, freshmen as well as sophomores since last year’s season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, are looking to the four seniors, like Hilario Cruz, and three juniors, for leadership.

“He’s a very good player with excellent skills and a great understanding of the game. He’s our conductor on the field,” Davis said. 

Junior Jose “Chito” Cortez also is a leader on the field.

“He sets up other boys, creating opportunities for them,” Davis said.

He also said he can count on energy and leadership from junior Nate Collard and mentally, he knows junior Amir-Leo Beharic is strong.

“We want our players to step up, take responsibility and build the team,” Davis said. “We want them all to become good leaders. Our overall philosophy is to develop these young people into productive young men. The things they learn on the field—thinking, decision-making, problem-solving—translates into life skills.”

Two years ago, in 6A, the Huskies finished second in region, narrowly missing the title. Last year, the team played a tournament in St. George before the season was canceled and sent off the seniors with a farewell video. 

This year, even with the COVID-19 testing every two weeks and following other health and safety guidelines, Davis is glad they’re having a season.

“We’re just playing better each game and rising to the occasion,” he said. “I’m excited to see our game improve each time we play.”