It’s Touch and Go for Brighton High School Boys Soccer
May 05, 2016 12:07PM
● By Sarah Almond
By Sarah Almond | [email protected]
Cottonwood Heights - The Brighton High School boys soccer team started off its 2016 season strong: The team won its first three non-region games by an average of two goals and closed out longtime challenger Taylorsville 1-0 in its first region game.
“We started off really strong,” senior captain Kade Peterson said. “We were playing well and making progress.”
Following their game against Taylorsville, the Bengals struggled to find their rhythm. Copper Hills and Bingham both beat Brighton in week four of the season, resulting in the most consecutive losses the team has had in over five years.
“We played at Taylorsville to start the region and got a win, and we were real happy with that,” head coach Tom Cushing said. “But then the wheels kind of came off the week before spring break when we lost two in a row.”
After losing to Bingham at home, the Bengals had two weeks to practice hard and polish up their game.
“We’re not where we want to be in the region right now,” Cushing said. “But there is still a lot of soccer left to play, so we’ll see how we do the rest of the season.”
While it’s easy to get discouraged in the face of defeat, the Bengals have kept their heads up and focused on improving as individuals and as a team.
“We’re getting better every day,” Peterson said. “We’ve really had to work on our communication and focus on getting better as a group.”
“Our focus is always to play our best,” he said. “In order to make it to the state tournament, we have to play our best.”
Though Cushing doesn’t think the early season losses indicate serious underlying issues within the team, he knows that his players can perform at a higher level.
“I don’t think we’re stuck in a rut, but I also don’t think we’ve been playing to our full potential either,” he said. “You know, region is important, but playing your best is even more important. We gave up seven goals in one week. That’s really unusual for us.”
Despite the challenges the Bengals have faced this season, Cushing is still pleased with the talent and determination of his players.
“We’ve got good players everywhere,” Cushing said. “We’ve got strong players on offense and defense; we just have to be locked in together. Everyone on the field has to be connected and working together.”
Fortunately, many of the Bengal’s 45 members are returning players from last year, meaning they know how to operate as a successful team. This year the team also has several underclassmen with considerable talent.
“This year we’re starting six seniors, two juniors and two sophomores, and our whole backline are returners,” Cushing said. “I’ve got about five new guys, too.”
The Bengals’ varying experience and skill levels make for an ever-changing atmosphere within the team.
“The dynamics are always a work in progress, you know? Improvement is never a straight line, and things don’t always run smoothly,” Cushing said. “You just deal with issues as they come up and work on everybody buying into what you’re coaching them.”
Now, the Bengals are focused on fine-tuning the skills and sportsmanship they need to win.
“We’re working on getting everyone to have one vision and one direction,” Cushing said. “And it’s always kind of the same message year to year: It’s about trusting each other, trusting yourself, trusting your coaches and playing for the people around you. It’s about putting the team first.”
The Bengals’ goal is to make it to the Class 5A state tournament beginning May 17 at local home sites.