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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Brighton girls soccer fares well in region play, loses early in playoffs

Nov 06, 2018 01:50PM ● By Jana Klopsch

Kendra Hassell battles for the ball during a region match. The Bengals finished 11-5-1, bowing out in the first round of the state tournament. (Justin Adams/City Journals)

By Josh McFadden | [email protected] 

It shouldn’t have surprised anyone when the Brighton girls soccer team qualified for the state tournament this season. But after another quick exit, Brighton is eager to take the next step. 

The Bengals placed third in the six-team Region 7, grabbing the third seed in the league. Brighton went 6-3-1 in region play and entered the state tournament with a solid 10-4-1 overall record. 

But for the fourth straight season, things at state didn’t go as the Bengals hoped. 

On Oct. 9, Brighton squared off with Skyline, the second-place team from Region 6, on the Eagles’ home field. The Bengals entered the game having scored 14 combined goals in its previous three games but couldn’t find the back of the net against the stout Skyline defense. The Eagles scored in the first half, which was all they needed to hand Brighton a 1-0 loss. It was the fifth time this season the Bengals failed to score a goal.

Heading into the state tournament, Brighton was on a roll. It was riding a three-game winning streak, with victories over Cottonwood (8-0), Alta (3-1) and Jordan (3-0). 

Two of Brighton’s three region losses came at the hands of Corner Canyon (2-0 and 4-0). The Bengals also fell to league champion Timpview by the count of 3-0 on Sept. 11. The Bengals managed a scoreless tie with Timpview on Sept. 20. 

In its six league victories, Brighton’s offense dominated, averaging nearly five goals. The Bengals were scoreless in their two losses and tie.

Individually, Kaitlyn Conley was one of the most prolific scorers in the state. She racked up 23 goals this season, good enough for fourth-most among all players in Utah. She led Class 5A in goals with 1.4 a game. The senior had four games in which she tallied at least three goals. Lexi Simpson was a great complement to Conley. The junior added eight goals this season and should be a team leader in 2019. Sage Stott and Dylan Zito had seven and five goals, respectively. Naomi Kehl and Payton Degraw each had two shutouts from their goalkeeper positions. 

The Bengals have made a habit of reaching the state tournament. They’ve now reached the postseason every year this century and won titles in 2005, 2010 and 2013. Things look good for Brighton to get past the first round for the first time since 2014. In addition to Simpson coming back, Zito is a junior, and Stott is just a sophomore. Kehl will return as a senior in 2019. Junior Mikayla Wise and sophomore Kate Munger will also be back, lending plenty of firepower and experience to the Brighton lineup.