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Midvale Journal

Huskies girls’ soccer competes in first round of state playoffs

Nov 07, 2023 11:54AM ● By Julie Slama

Hillcrest High senior Hailey Pedersen chases after the ball against Juan Diego Catholic High. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

With a good enough RPI, Hillcrest High’s girls soccer team made the first round of the 4A state tournament with an away game against Sky View.

The Huskies traveled to Smithfield where they scored a goal in the first half, but Sky View scored two and a third one in the second half to put away any hopes of Hillcrest advancing to the next round. The Huskies finished the season 6-11.

Hillcrest ended fourth in region 10 and was led by sophomore Ella Blackbourn in goals and sophomore Danika Hickcox in assists.

“We finished in the top half of our region, that was good for our young team,” said head coach Brett Davis about the competitive region that had two of its teams in the state semifinals. “We were ranked high enough to get into the playoffs, which was one of our goals. It helped our younger players gain that playoff experience, which will be vital in the upcoming year.”

Davis, in his second year as the girls’ head coach, was pleased with the overall development of the 36-member team.

“This year we were able to plan and have open workouts in the summer and the team responded. We had some girls step up, really buy in and start to develop the new culture which translates onto the field. As the season went on, we got better in more than just playing skills, but also in becoming a family,” he said.

That, Davis said, is critical.

“In a team sport, it’s critical that you have an understanding for each other, even deeper than just an acceptance of each other. There’s a whole different dynamic in a sport like soccer, that’s so much dependent on what everybody else is doing simultaneously and being able to read each other. You don’t stop after each play or that you have timeouts. In soccer, you have 11 players on the field in your team, along with the movement and adjustment of 11 players on the other side, the movement of the ball, so the more you understand each other and can get an idea of what the rest of your teammates are thinking and doing, then the more likely you are to have success,” he said, giving credit to his five seniors in bringing that “unifying culture in our team bond.”

Looking ahead, Davis foresees about nine returning starters. 

“We were surprised at the number of freshmen players we had come in this year, and their level was much better than we had expected. We had freshmen that were able to step in and play varsity minutes in the playoffs,” he said, adding that he reinstated the freshman/sophomore team that has been missing for six years. “With more teams, the players were getting more touches on the ball and touches in a game situation are far more beneficial than touches in practices.”

Davis anticipates more growth in the program as players are making a commitment to boost the middle school feeder program, encouraging youth in the community to learn skills and giving back to the community, recently by refereeing unified soccer matches.

“It’s important they’re realizing it’s not just about me, but it’s about us and what we can do together,” he said.

The Huskies return to the field with some open gym opportunities in January, with “more intense preparation” beginning around the end of the school year. λ