GIRLS SOCCER PREVIEW: Kendell Petersen chose Northridge over La Roca

Tuesday , August 08, 2017 - 6:15 AM

RYAN COMER, Standard-Examiner Staff

LAYTON — The allure of the new La Roca girls academy soccer team was powerful enough to convince a number of highly skilled players from Northern Utah to give up playing for their high schools.

Kendell Petersen couldn’t quite buy in, and now she’s preparing to play her senior year at Northridge High.

The choice was clearly difficult. Petersen had to decide between playing with club teammates in a league under the umbrella of U.S. Soccer — and enjoying all the benefits such exposure figures to bring — and being available for sports at Northridge. Petersen also plays basketball.

She felt the tug from both sides, but ultimately, she couldn’t give up her final year.

“I wanted to finish everything that I started,” Petersen said. “I have played soccer here for three years already, and I felt like if I did the academy my whole senior year was gone because it requires so much.”

Petersen has high expectations for Northridge this year.

“I think that we have a lot more potential than we have in the past few years,” Petersen said. “Especially since a lot of the other schools are losing girls to the academy.”

Including Petersen, Northridge has four seniors who started last year. The other three are goalkeeper Mekell Moss, midfielder Brooke Stoker and midfielder Maya Lewis.

“We have a lot of seniors, and we have some good sophomores and juniors that will contribute,” said first-year head coach Wyatt Kennah, who replaces Jon Auger after spending two years as an assistant.

Kennah doesn’t expect it to be easy. He calls Region 1, which now includes three-time defending state champion Davis, as well as Syracuse and Layton, the “region of death.”

“These teams are taking some hits, but they’re going to be ready to go as well,” Kennah said.

Northridge starts its season Thursday with a tournament in Orem. A number of Northern Utah teams begin play today.

Perhaps no team took a bigger hit due to the academy than Davis. The Darts lost Olivia Wade, a BYU commit who tallied over 80 goals in her freshman, sophomore and junior years combined. Goalkeeper Kendyl Baker, who is committed to Loyola Marymount, also left Davis for the academy.

Nevertheless, Davis returns BYU commit Zoe Jacobs and Utah Valley commit Hailee Atwater. Jacobs, who played defense last year, expects to play more in the midfield this year. Atwater also plays in the midfield.

Tabitha Howard, a center back and holding midfielder, and Halle Moffat, a goalkeeper, also return from last year’s team.

Weber lost five players to the academy (Alyssa Ulugalu, Ellie Maughan, Sidney Roberts, Rylee Tatton and Adree Johnson) but returns Weber State commit Trinity Kerr, a center midfielder, and Brinlee Collings — a midfielder committed to Colorado College.

New head coach Cloee Marble has also been impressed with defender Shelby Egbert, forward/midfielder Navie Webb, goalkeeper Claudia Vinaco and midfielder Camryn Karras.

Injuries have plagued the Warriors leading up to the start of the season. Center back Rachel Wight has a torn MCL and possibly a torn ACL, and forward Hannah Wheelwright has a fractured back. Marble is not yet sure how much of the season the two will be able to play.

Syracuse took a hit with the loss of Weber State commit Grace Nelson to the academy. Titans coach Taylor Allen called Nelson the best defender on the team last year.

Nevertheless, Allen says the overall team is deeper than it has been in the past. Forward Ashlynn Hall, who scored 18 goals as a freshman last season, defender Kelsey Steed, defender Savannah Allen and goalkeeper Gabby Segura are all returning.

Syracuse is also trying to overcome injuries. Midfielders Adriana Owen and Gabby Bugtong each suffered an injury prior to tryouts. Owen has a hip flexor injury, and Bugtong has a torn ACL. Owen is expected back by the end of the preseason, while Bugtong is out for the season.

Allen has been impressed with a pair of freshmen — midfielder Caroline Stringfellow and forward Sarah Wynn.

“They’re both the real deal, man,” Allen said.

Layton has six seniors that new coach Tara Ferrin said are leading the way: Addie Rutter, Natalie Wood, Corinne Case, Abbee Smith, Kylie Pritchett and Ashley Arnes. Arnes is committed to Houston Baptist University. The Lancers also have a freshman, Kaitlyn Richins, who is committed to Utah State.

Fremont, which made it to the 5-A title game last year, will try to reload following the losses of University of Utah commit Courtney Talbot and Rylee Hunsaker to the academy.

Clearfield lost Baylie Christensen to the academy.

REGION 5

Woods Cross advanced to the 4-A semifinals last year and appears to be primed for another deep run in the 5-A ranks this season. The Wildcats return forward Sara Noel and goalkeeper Rachel Noel — sisters committed to Utah State.

Other players returning for Woods Cross are midfielder and Weber State commit Olivia Barton, defender and Westminster commit Emilie Veale, defenders Ellie Johnson and Ella Duce, midfielders Sam Campbell and Camryn Henson, and defender/forward Miya Hammond.

Viewmont advanced to the 5-A quarterfinals last year and returns forward Jaci Cook-Dandos, outside back Madie Toole, attacking midfielder Sailor Uffens and holding midfielder Jessy Allen. Cook-Dandos is committed to play at Dixie State.

Box Elder and Roy each have new coaches. Bret Harris is the new coach at Box Elder, and Alyssa Foutz is the new coach at Roy. Foutz played at Weber State.

Harris said Box Elder is young following the departure of nine seniors, but he has been encouraged by what he’s seen.

“Just watching the level of play the last few days as we’ve played has been phenomenal,” Harris said. “It’s coming together, and it’s coming together real quick.”

Box Elder returns forward Kambri Curtis, goalkeeper Markell Freeman, midfielder Ansley Tueller and midfielder Mylan Daniels.

Harris added that midfielders Molly Robb and McKenna Ricks have also impressed.

REGION 11

Ben Lomond coach Don Greenfield believes his team can compete but acknowledges it will be difficult to contend for a playoff spot.

“We’re probably in the toughest region in the state,” Greenfield said.

Juan Diego is the defending 3-A champion, Stansbury, Park City and Tooele all advanced to the 3-A quarterfinals last year, and Bonneville advanced to the 4-A quarterfinals last year.

Ben Lomond returns defender Mackya Tuck and midfielder Dalaini Moss.

Ogden has a new head coach, Skylar Stam. Stam graduated from Ogden and played at Weber State.

REGION 12

Sky View has nine seniors as it prepares to compete in the 4-A classification after two years of competing in 5-A.

The nine seniors are: Hannah Gibbons (defender), Kylee Griffin (midfielder), Jessica Buttars (defender), Kelsea Cracroft (goalkeeper), Emily Jensen (defender), Sarah Spencer (midfielder), Samantha Tippetts (wing), Haley Haynie (wing) and Claire Boman (forward).

Griffin is committed to Westminster.

Sky View also returns two players who started as sophomores last season: forward Sidney Barlow — committed to Utah State — and midfielder Kasidee Lamb.

The Bobcats lost Brikelle Holbrook, a senior this upcoming season, to Green Canyon. They also lost Sadie Noble, who will be a junior, to the academy.

Logan, which played in the 3-A title game last year, returns eight starters — a group headlined by sophomore midfielder and Utah State commit Whitney Lopez.

The Grizzlies also return defender Zoe Rich, midfielder Karly Lopez, forward Brinlee Williams, forward Kaycee Larsen, forward Shannon Jensen, defender Megan Christensen and midfielder Kennedy Michel.

Utah State commit Sammie Murdock, a center back, transferred from Mountain Crest to Ridgeline. She said she chose not to play for the academy because she will be graduating early.

Attacking midfielder London Miller, a Utah Valley commit, holding midfielder Madi Budge and goalkeeper Makaylee Tenhoeve all return for the RiverHawks.

In addition to losing Murdock, Mountain Crest also lost Utah State commit Marli Niederhauser to the academy. The Mustangs return forward Kenna Green, goalkeeper Emily Olsen, midfielder Kylie McBride and forward Whitney Stanko.

New Bear River coach Andrew Cobabe said the region is “going to be really tough.”

“I think it’s going to be harder this year than last year,” Cobabe said.

Cobabe said nearly the entire starting lineup for the Bears returns from last year. Last year’s team only had three seniors, and just one of those seniors started.

Contact Standard-Examiner sports reporter Ryan Comer at rcomer@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @RyanComerSe and on Facebook.

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