Positive attitude, dedication, more players builds Hillcrest High girls soccer programSep 08, 2023 11:53AM ● By Julie Slama
Hillcrest High junior Addy Back makes a save in the first half of the game at Juan Diego Catholic High. (Julie Slama/City Journals)
In his second year as Hillcrest High’s girls soccer coach, Brett Davis already is building the program. The Huskies’ freshmen and sophomore team returned after a six-year absence.
“That was a goal when I was hired to build a third team,” he said. “Last spring, we went to Union and Midvale middle schools and gave information out. We were at Harvest Days with a skills booth. We’re building the program. This year, we have 37 girls, some of those players will play on a couple teams. The boys, I’ve coached for years, and we’ve always been fluid like that so with the girls, it makes sense to give them more playing time and more experience.”
Davis has held practices since May, when allowed, coaching the student-athletes in a progression of technical skills that led up to tryouts.
The Huskies opened their season Aug. 3 on the road against Spanish Fork High.
“We played some good soccer for 25 minutes; we’ll get to being able to play a solid entire game. I only have five seniors. I have solid juniors and our sophomore class is really good, but we’re learning to play together yet,” he said about the 5-0 loss. “I’m expecting it’s going to be a year that we have to fight because we’re young, but they can play and it’s fun to watch. Right now, we’re not super deep; we rotate about 15 players.”
Captain Abby Mathis said that first loss came as a learning experience.
“We don’t think the score reflects how well we played, especially how great we played that first half. I think we learned we need to carry that same first half energy into the second half,” No. 14 said. “We need to come with the mindset that we can do this.”
Similar to the Spanish Fork game, the Huskies led Juan Diego Catholic High on Aug. 14 at half with a goal from sophomore Ella Blackburn. They were outscored by three goals in the second half and lost to the Soaring Eagle, 3-1 on their field. The team also lost to Fremont, 5-0, Aug. 10 on the road.
“Our midfield has one senior; it’s carried by a couple sophomores,” Davis said. “Our attacking mid and our defensive mid are both strong juniors. Our defense is young, but they’re doing all right.”
The Huskies held on to a 2-1 win Aug. 8 against Ben Lomond High at home, playing on the football turf as a broken pipe flooded their soccer field.
“We scored one in the first half and again, in the second half. Then, they put one in with about eight minutes to go. We’re just trying to get our youth to have good game management, but they move well and support each other,” he said. “We don’t have those big-footed players like we did last year so we’re working on trying to figure out how to find the goal other ways. We need to keep practicing. We create opportunities, but we need to finish those with one extra touch and the confidence to shoot.”
On Aug. 14, the Huskies also beat nearby Jordan High 3-2 on the road, their first region win.
Mathis, who began playing in second grade with her friend Sarah Pruden on a AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization) team at Union Middle School on Saturday mornings, said one difference in winning and losing in the past was the attitude when they come to play.
“Our attitude makes a lot of difference. One of my goals this year is to be more positive and encourage others, ‘you can do this.’ If we can keep our team positive, it’s going to help motivate us,” she said. “I try to lead that way at every practice. I make sure the girls are coming with high intensity and energy and are just positive the whole time.”
Mathis has played with Pruden through high school and expected to play together senior year until Pruden tore her ACL during spring season with her club team.
“She’s a great player and once she got me to play soccer, I never looked back or considered another sport. I just love the adrenaline rush before games and the excitement to go out and play soccer. I like getting to contribute to the game and the team,” said the National Honors Society member who said she wants to study in the medical field at college as well as play soccer intramurals.
Within the first two weeks of school, Hillcrest will have played every team once in their new region, 4A, region 10.
“We’re getting our players to gel and adding some coverages,” Davis said. “We set up our preseason schedule against teams that were going to be tough for us, but it helps us prepare for season by playing higher quality competition. We’re going to have some very tough games and that’ll be good for us, especially come state playoffs.”
Mathis agrees: “We will be able to compete this year in our region, and I think we can go farther in the state playoffs than we have the past three years I’ve played for the Huskies. We’re building a culture here. I’m proud to be a part of Hillcrest soccer.” λ