All-Valley Girls Soccer: Model of consistency
For the Preston girls soccer team, there could have been no way to rival last year’s first-ever state championship.
The Indians did, however, return to the state tournament for the third time in three years.
And it’s no coincidence that senior Morgan Hall put together a third consecutive season of 20 or more goals.
Hall led the Indians, and every other player in Cache Valley, with 25 goals and 12 assists to earn The Herald Journal All-Valley 2016 Soccer Player of the Year.
“What she’s meant to the program for four years,” Preston head coach Brandon Lyon said, “the numbers have been incredible for four years, especially the last three, but just her personality, her work ethic, the way she carries herself on and off the field, the type of teammate she is; you think of the type of high school soccer player that you want to have on your team, and be a focal point of your team, I mean she basically checks all the boxes.”
Hall began playing soccer at the age of 5, after watching her cousins play the game. She went on to play club ball as a youth before the rigors of playing two sports in high school — soccer and basketball — forced her to divide her attention.
Hall averaged 24 goals and 15 assists her last three years as a forward for Preston.
Her senior year didn’t turn out like she wanted it to, but she will always have a state title to think back on.
“It was just one of the best things ever,” Hall said, “to have our community there and win it for our community. Preston girls soccer had never won a state championship before. So that was something we’ll always remember.”
Hall has made the transition back into basketball with the soccer season over but has her eye toward continuing her soccer career at the collegiate level.
“I would like to go play college soccer,” Hall said. “I’ve been talking to a few coaches, but I haven’t really made it anywhere yet.”
Hall said she’s talked to mostly community college coaches from Wyoming, Washington and Utah.
“It would be nice to stay close to home, but I’ll just go wherever pays for my schooling,” she said.
Lyon remembers Hall’s performance during the state championship run a year ago.
“There are games when she had four or five goal games, and this is easy to say this, and everybody in the community will remember it, but it was a stretch of games last year, when she scores the one goal in the district championship to beat Century,” he said. “She scores the one goal in the semifinals to beat Bishop Kelley, and she has the game-winning assist in the state championship. I mean, arguably three of the best teams in the history of 4A state soccer. And she basically — I don’t want to say made the difference because everybody played a part in that — but she had those big moments.”
No doubt Hall will remember that too, but of her senior year, she will remember coming together as a team and bonding with her coaches and returning to the state tournament and, unfortunately, playing only 15 minutes during Senior Night due to a hamstring injury that nagged her throughout the rest of the season.
“We just wanted to go and defend our title,” Hall said. “One of our big goals was to go to state again. We accomplished that but we just didn’t get to where we wanted to get.”
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Zoe Clark, Logan, Sr.
Clark helped the Grizzlies get back to the 3A state championship with another solid year. Clark netted 12 goals this season to lead Logan in scoring.
“For our system, she was very integral,” Logan head coach Sven Rasmussen said. “We like to have a number nine who plays with her back to goal, super strong, and Zoe’s relentless. She’s very strong on the ball, and she just won’t quit.”
Clark got the better of many a defense this season with three multi-goal games, including a hat trick against Bear River.
Clark can punish goalkeepers from in close or well beyond the 18-yard line.
“She’s done it so many times, just shot from distance with so much power, just like turning on a dime,” Rasmussen said. “And she can whip a shot off probably faster than a lot of guys that I know. (Logan is) going to miss her ability to rocket off a shot anywhere from 40 yards to goal.”
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Paige Moser, Preston, Sr.
After the Indians lost all but one starter on their back line, Lyon turned to Moser, previously the team’s starting holding mid.
“This year, where we lost almost our whole back line — we lost Brittany Miller, who was a three-year All-Valley centerback, and we had Erica (Griffeth) coming in who was an inexperienced goalkeeper, we knew we had to have somebody that could kind of be the stability on the back line, and Paige, she did it.”
Moser relied first on her athleticism, as she grew more comfortable in her new role. But she figured things out quickly and helped the Indians end the year with a 53-27 goal differential. Griffeth definitely deserves credit, but the Preston defense did contribute to seven total shutouts on the year.
“She can cover so much ground, and while she was learning the position early on, she kind of covered a lot of ground with that athleticism, but she just got better and better as the year went on,” Lyon said. “And it really was a difference for us in solidifying the back line.”
GOALKEEPER OF THE YEAR
Makaylee Tenhoeve, Ridgeline, So.
Tenhoeve may have been one of Mountain Crest’s best-kept secrets before becoming a Riverhawk her sophomore year.
“She’s a real confident kid,” Ridgeline head coach Darin Christensen said. “I don’t think she got a whole lot of time as a freshman at Mountain Crest, and I think that actually upset her. I think she knows how good she is, and she puts a lot of work in, so obviously that comes with some confidence. I think it was really good for her because we were real young and she could kind of let her natural leadership abilities come out.”
Tenhoeve finished the season with seven shutouts, five of which came in a row between the last three games of the region season and the first two games of the state tournament.
“I think the biggest game for her as far as kind of coming out, breaking out, that was that Juan Diego game where we tied them 0-0 at their place,” Christensen said. “We had kind of been making a little run but it was against some kind of lower end teams, so it wasn’t a real — it was good we were shutting teams out, but that Juan Diego game, she had some monster saves, just a whole bunch of them. I think after that her confidence just grew.”
Tenhoeve’s biggest game came against No. 1 Desert Hills in the first round of the tournament when she made three saves during penalty kicks before booting the game-winning PK in herself to move on in the tournament.
BREAKOUT PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Hannah Fife, Sky View. Sr.
From early on in the season, it was obvious Bobcat fans were seeing a different side of Fife.
“Last year, Hannah was happy to be on the field whenever she could,” Sky View head coach Sharron Wood said. “This year, she wanted to be on the field. She didn’t want to come off. She knew in order to do that she had to step it up.”
Fife finished the season with four goals and seven assists. Two of those goals game in the final game of the season, a 3-2 loss to Lone Peak in the first round of the 5A state playoffs. The Knights built a 2-0 lead at the half, and it was Fife who gave her team a fighting chance.
But more than the stats, Fife, a captain, showcased a toughness going after loose balls, attacking goalkeepers and scrapping with defenders.
“I was so impressed with the way she came out this year and played and wanted to be on the field and made a difference when she was on the field,” Wood said. “I just thought she did a great job.”
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
London Miller, Ridgeline, Fr.
Miller will go down in the history books as the first to net a goal for the Riverhawks girls soccer team, but there’s something about her play that suggests the lore of London will not stop there.
“London, she is the most intense and competitive player that I think I’ve ever seen coaching girls,” Christensen said. “She’ll get into this game mode where at times it’s almost scary.”
It is quite common to find Miller at one end or the other of a referee’s whistle or in a stack of tangled bodies. Of course there’s more than just her competitiveness and scrappiness. She’s a really good player to have on the field in terms of skill and leadership.
“She’s a freshman, and she had to step up and be a leader from day one, which is probably weird,” Christensen said. “We kind of asked her to be a leader right away and one of the biggest parts of the team.”
Miller answered that call by contributing five goals, tied for second most on the team behind fellow freshman Abbie Kotter’s six.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Sharron Wood, Sky View
The Bobcats won four games in 2015. A year later, Wood stepped into the head coaching position after former head coach Doyle Geddes stepped away. It took Wood just five games to match that total.
The first-year head coach led the Bobcats to a 10-6-1 record and back to the playoffs after a year hiatus.
One thing that stuck out this season was Sky View’s ability to finish games. A year ago the Bobcats finished with three ties and lost five games by one goal, one of those losses came in double overtime.
Perhaps Sky View’s biggest weakness this season was being in the same region as Fremont (10-1-1 in region) and Weber (10-2), against whom the Bobcats finished a combined 0-3-1.