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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Skyline men’s soccer fights through toughest season yet

Aug 29, 2017 09:14AM ● By Jana Klopsch

The Skyline men’s soccer team had an especially tough season after losing a teammate and friend last year, Andrew Garcia. (Shawn Kennedy/Skyline boys soccer)

By Jesse Sindelar | [email protected]

The Skyline men’s soccer team had a very tough season this year, and not just on the competitive front. While the team lost in the state semifinals to East after a good season, their results were dwarfed by the loss of a player and student, Andrew Garcia.

Garcia took his own life a few months before the season started. “We lost a core player and a friend,” said head coach Shawn Kennedy.

“It had a huge impact on the boys, both physically and mentally. From the beginning of the season, the team had to find ways of coping with not having him on the field,” said Kennedy.

And cope they did. The team finished the regular season 11-9, although that record did not come easily.

The team was heavily senior led, and the results came when these seniors played their game. “(The seniors) had the ability to play good soccer, but we just didn’t know which team would show up on the field. There were times when the staff and I would say, ‘Wow, that was good soccer’ and other times we would say, ‘This could be a long season,’” Kennedy said.

To cope with this inconsistency, coaches started using the phrase “share the love,” which meant to share the ball. 

“It wasn’t about the individual, but the team that these boys needed to learn. From that point forward, they had begun to learn how to work with and for each other,” Kennedy said.

By the time playoffs rolled around, the team was playing well. Now they had to keep playing well. “We knew the boys could be successful if they would play for one another,” Kennedy said.

The first round was a tense contest against Skyridge, but the Skyline team squeaked by in penalties after some crucial saves from goalkeeper Tommy Jensen.

Then came Woods Cross in the quarterfinals. After a scoreless half, both teams scored twice in the second half to send it to overtime, where Skyline snuck in a goal in the first overtime period to send the Eagles to the semis.

The team was going against a very strong East team in the semifinals, and it showed. East scored in the first 20 minutes off an unlucky scrum in the box and then scored a second before half. “It was hard to recover after that. East was a strong team with some talented players, but it was a good experience for us to play them,” said Kennedy.

Kennedy’s appreciation for his team knows no bounds, but he has a special bit of praise for his seniors particularly. 

“These senior players were very close to Andrew (Garcia), but they found positive ways to bond the team together. Each year I ask the seniors what their goals are for the season and they always say the same thing, ‘Let’s push for a championship and to have a good experience.’ I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Kennedy said.

While a team can prepare for any number of situations on the field, there are a lot of things off the field they can’t prepare for. This Skyline team couldn’t prepare for losing one of their own, but as a team, they came out strong and together. Let’s see if this sense of community can translate to the field for this upcoming season.