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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Brighton High School Girl’s Soccer Sets Sights On State Title

Sep 28, 2016 01:17PM ● By Sarah Almond

Brighton head coach Mark Stoker talks with the girls during a mid-scrimmage break about pushing through the fatigue and working hard for each other. (Sarah Almond/City Journals)

By Sarah Almond | [email protected]
Brighton High School girl’s soccer team kicked off their season with a four-day-long tryout process Aug. 3-6. Sixty-five eager girls sweat through seven grueling sessions where they put their skills, speed, and soccer IQ to the test. In the end, 54 players made the cut.
“This is the second year we’ve had enough players to make a freshman, sophomore, JV and varsity team,” Senior Maddi Jepperson said. “We have 36 girls on varsity.”
The Bengals has a rough start to the season, losing to both Lone Peak and Viewmont.
“We didn’t get the results we wanted in the beginning but I think we’ve been playing pretty good,” senior Olivia Nelson said. “Every game we’ve started playing better and better.”
Brighton typically plays challenging teams during preseason not only to practice for the competition they’ll be facing throughout their regular season, but also to prepare them for playing the tough teams they’ll face as they battle through the state championship in October.
“Even though we lost to Lone Peak in the preseason we played way better than we did in our game against them last year,” Jepperson said. “To see that improvement means that we are playing hard.”
The team’s noticed improvement on the field speaks to the individual talent of the Bengal players. A majority of the girls on Brighton team this season also play soccer year-round on various club teams throughout the Salt Lake Valley.
While this helps improve skills and keep players in-shape, the different playing styles can often clash on the Bengal field. This year, however, the team is working through their differences and quickly finding their flow. 
“I feel like we are a lot closer as a team this year,” junior Hanna Olsen said. “We are a lot more positive on the field this year and we really support each other.”
Despite going 9-1 in the region last season, the Bengals lack of positive senior leadership caused unwanted friction between players that ultimately created an unfavorable team dynamic.
“The seniors last year seemed like they didn’t even want to play,” Nelson said. “So we’ve really wanted to turn that around this season. We try to keep up the energy on the field and really show our will to win.”
To contrast last season’s leadership, Jepperson, Nelson and their fellow seniors have created various way to facilitate team bonding and camaraderie amongst the players.
“We’ve had team sleepovers and we did a military training course thing at Camp Williams which was fun,” Jepperson said.
These group activities and upperclassmen efforts to improve team chemistry have translated well on the field; players saying they feel like their communication is at it’s best and they have a good shot at claiming the state title.
“I think we are going to go really far in state this year,” Olsen said. “Obviously our goal is to win state, but we really want to focus on playing our hardest and improving with each game.” 
While the team has undeniable talent and reliable depth, players think their newfound sense of team unity will be their biggest strength this season.
“I think our ability to work together will be one of our biggest advantages,” Nelson said. “We don’t really have any super-stars but we have really good team chemistry and I think that will help us win.”