Rock Canyon falls to Ralston Valley
Jaguars' bid for state title ends in quarterfinals
Rock Canyon players shed tears and shared hugs as they slowly moved off the field after the Jaguars 3-0 loss to Ralston Valley in the Class 5A girls soccer quarterfinals.
“Obviously this isn't how our team wanted the season to end,” Jaguars Coach Mat Henbest said after the May 13 game ended the Jaguars season. “Ralston Valley didn't make it easy on us and we didn't adjust well to what they were... I know the girls feel the hurt of losing this game right now, but I hope that will go away in a couple of days and they will remember all that was good about a very good season for us this year.”
The Jaguars took second in the Continental League with a 10-1 league mark and finished the year at 16-2 overal. Kaycie Young was the team's leading scorer with 13 goals and nine assists. Jill Finnerty added seven goals and dished off six assists.
On May 13, the Jaguars pushed the attack and got off on-target shots at the net twice early. Mustang goalie Renee Roemer snuffed out a shot by Young the first time and punched away a corner attempt deflected off the head of Jaguar forward Paige Von Bank the second time.
The game remained scoreless until midway through the first half when Ralston Valley scored on a long, high kick and then seven minutes later sent a line-drive shot low and on target to make the score, 2-0. The Ralston Valley attack clicked again less than four minutes into the second half as the Mustangs iced the game.
“Ralston Valley is a good team and they put us under a lot of pressure early,” Henbest said. “It was a physical game and, at some level, that style of play could be a distraction. Another issue was we weren't as patient as we have been in other games this season and that worked against us.
"Ralston Valley did a good job of working to deny our two attacking midfielders opportunities to score. Instead of adjusting and going to other players to spearhead the attack, we kept trying to feed the ball to those two girls. If we played the ball to our backs and moved the ball around, we could have nullified that tactic.”
After the game, the coach gathered the players around him, giving them the opportunity to express their feelings about the game and the season.
“We lost today but I don't think there are teams that feel sorry for us,” he said as the players headed for the locker room. “We have five seniors, including two of the best players in the state, graduating in June. So, we have a lot of returning letter winners and, while it will be hard to replace our seniors we feel we will have players step forward to fill those spots on our team.”
Rock Canyon's population has grown and the soccer team has a strong feeder program, he said, adding that the majority of the girls on the roster are year-round soccer players.
“The focus on one sport seems to be the trend now,” he said. “We have girls who play on club teams in the summer and in other seasons. The result is they come to us with very good soccer skills and help make us a stronger team.”