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Girls Soccer Repeats as State 2A Champions

By Bobby Kennedy, Head Coach

On July 31, 11 student-athletes turned up at the Steiner Field complex, ready to prepare to defend their 2022 state title. That number would eventually grow to 20 players in the following weeks. The limited roster size meant that we would play exclusively at the varsity level and that young players would have to develop quickly to contribute in a meaningful way.

It was clear early on that the totally new coaching staff had a different approach on how to present the beautiful game. Players grew technically, tactically, and emotionally, daily. Senior Quinn Orgain, formerly a midfielder, stepped up to play goalkeeper, and we could start to see the potential in the team, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. As the season progressed, the team became more aware of their defensive responsibilities while still working to develop a potent and well-balanced attack.

Finishing the regular season with a 9-3 mark earned the Winged Lions a #3 seed into the state 2A tournament. The team and staff were confident leading into the early rounds because all of their opponents came out of the North Division, thus allowing us to prepare and be comfortable knowing the challenge ahead. After easily handling the first two games against American Prep West Valley and Maeser Prep, the green and white were poised to meet local rival Waterford in the semifinal, a team they had lost to twice in the regular season by a combined margin of four goals.

With a slight change to the formation and our Winged Lions at full strength, the group was confident entering the match with the Ravens. After full time, the score was tied at two and we entered the “golden goal” extra time period of two 10-minute halves. Still knotted at two after the first OT, the game would end off a quickly taken free kick from Paige Connery, who was able to link up with Zakrie Smith, who found Bea Wall on a clever pass, and she slotted the ball past the onrushing Waterford netminder for the winning goal.

In the 2A state final, we faced St. Joseph, a team the Winged Lions beat in the 2022 final as well as in the regular season this year. Confidence was high, but both victories were by one goal margins, so there was not a lot of room for error. St. Joe scored early, but our players bounced back quickly, something that they had done routinely during the course of the season. The two teams traded goals in an exciting match, with our Winged Lions eventually prevailing 4-3 in the hard-fought contest to capture a second consecutive state 2A championship, and the sixth in the past seven years.

The Winged Lions captured several individual honors on the way to the state title. Winged Lions selected to the All-Region 17 team were Paige Connery, Eliana DeBellis, Bea Martin, and Zakrie Smith. Paige Connery and Bea Wall earned Academic All-Region and prestigious Utah High School Activities Association Academic All-State honors. The Deseret News All-State awards have not yet been announced, but we expect that several of our players will be named to the All-State team.

At our postseason team celebration, Ming Lee and Zakrie Smith were both honored with the Lionhearted Award; Halle Baughman earned the Coaches’ Award; and Quinn Orgain was the team MVP.

Led by captains Halle Baughman, Paige Connery, and Zakrie Smith, the team came together as a group, played extremely well at the most meaningful moments, and earned the title every step of the way. Congratulations to these captains, and to their teammates: seniors Ming Lee, Quinn Orgain, and Bea Wall; juniors Finley Bodeen, Carolina Corcoran, Eliana DeBellis, Thea DeBellis, Maya Eisner, Claire Hersh, Kavitha Kasturi, Ashlyn Lieberman, and Bea Martin; and ninth graders Isabel Himoff, Emery Lieberman, Sabina Lowe, Juliana Ngo, and Kate Weissman.

Congratulations to the team on a season well-played and special thanks to my assistant coaches, Sam Duffy and Erin Bridges.