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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Region play proving challenging for Brighton girls soccer team

Oct 02, 2017 11:58AM ● By Jana Klopsch

The Brighton Bengal soccer team takes on Hillcrest during non-region play. The Bengals won 3-1. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

Anyone who follows high school sports in the state is aware of the major realignments the Utah High School Activities Association made this year. 

Beginning this past August with the start of the fall sports season, the brand-new Class 6A was created. Consequently, region affiliations changed. Brighton, which has been in Region 3 of Class 5A the past several years, remained in 5A this season but moved the Region 7 with former region mates Jordan and Cottonwood. New league foes Alta, Corner Canyon and Timpview joined the Bengals.

While Brighton’s girls soccer team fared no worse than second place and lost no more than two games in Region 3 the past six seasons, the first year in Region 7 hasn’t been a cakewalk by any stretch, as the Bengals lost two of their first three contests.

Non-league play early on, however, was a different story.

Brighton went an impressive 6-0 in non-region games. In the process, head coach Mark Stoker’s squad was a brick wall defensively, allowing just three goals in the six games and pitching three shutouts. No team in non-region action mustered more than one goal on the Bengals’ stout defense. 

The Bengals’ non-league victories were over Juan Diego (4-1), Hillcrest (3-1), Pleasant Grove (1-0), Olympus (3-0), Herriman (4-0) and Highland (4-1). 

Region play got off to a great start for Brighton Aug. 29 against Jordan, prevailing 4-0. The former Region 3 rivals couldn’t find the back of the net against Brighton, and the offense got going after a slow start. The Bengals led 1-0 at halftime but was hitting on all cylinders in the second half with three goals. Four different Bengals registered goals in the region-opening match. Alexxis Ward, Brynnae Braun, Hanna Olsen and Lily Sheehan each got one past the Jordan keeper in the victory. 

Brighton defeated Jordan in both meetings last season, each by the score of 3-1.

Next up on Aug. 31 was a rare game with Corner Canyon, a team Brighton will become more familiar with in Region 7. Corner Canyon scored more goals against Brighton than any opponent on the season, handing the Bengals a 2-0 shutout loss. Corner Canyon scored in both halves and kept Brighton at bay. It was the first time Brighton had been held without a goal since getting blanked by Layton 1-0 in the first round of the state tournament a year ago.

On Sept. 7, Brighton tried to rebound at home against nearby Alta High School. The Bengals trailed 1-0 at halftime but got on the board to tie things up with a goal by Ward in the second half. Brighton’s back end held up and kept Alta from scoring the rest of regulation. However, Alta found the back of the net in overtime to prevail in a 2-1 victory, sending Brighton a 1-2 mark in Region 7. 

The Bengals looked to get to .500 and back to their usual winning ways Sept. 12 and 14 with contests at Cottonwood and at home against Timpview, respectively. Both games occurred after our press deadline. Brighton hammered Cottonwood in two Region 3 meetings a season ago by the counts of 8-0 and 6-0. 

Balanced scoring has been the name of the game for the Bengals. A total of eight different players have scored, led by three from Olsen and Ward. Sheehan has two goals, while Braun, Mac Laidlaw, Aubrey Long, Kristin Peterson and Lexi Simpson had each scored during the team’s games through the loss the Alta. 

The Bengals must finish in the top four of the six-team Region 7 to qualify for the state tournament. Postseason play has become an annual tradition for the Bengals. The team has reached the playoffs every year this century.