A season ago, the Lakers came tantalizingly close to the biggest prize in 4-A boys soccer.
Riding a late-season winning streak to the state 4-A title game, the Bonneville High School boys soccer team ultimately came up short of its championship aspirations, falling 4-1 to Lehi at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Armed with a wealth of returning talent, the Lakers are off to an unbeaten start to the 2011 season.
"I feel pretty good where we are this early in the season," Bonneville coach Mike Hickman said. "We have a good blend of young and experienced players."
Dropping West Jordan and area rival Ben Lomond, Bonneville sits at 2-0-0 with one game remaining -- against St. Joseph -- before kicking off its always grueling 10-game Region 5 schedule.
"We have some good finishers up top," Hickman said. "We're working hard on the midfield to put quality service to our forwards."
Keying the Lakers' offensive attack will be junior Gage Woodward, who was the team's leading scorer in 2010 with 15 goals. Woodward has a pair of strikes to his credit in Bonneville's opening two games.
Korbin Tafoya has also been strong offensively for Bonneville, knocking in a team-best three goals so far this season.
Hickman, who has coached the Lakers to three state title games in his six-year tenure, also feels like his team's defense has been strong early on.
"Our back four have been rock solid," Hickman said. "They've really played well."
Bonneville's Region 5 rival Ogden, which narrowly missed the postseason last year, is also off to a fantastic preseason start, rolling up a 4-0-0 record and a 16-3 goal differential. The Tigers have swept a two-game non-league series with city rival Ben Lomond, while also knocking off St. Joseph and Bear River.
Another team that was nail-bitingly closer to a state soccer title last year was the Fremont.
The Silver Wolves started just 3-3 in 2010, but ripped off a 13-game winning streak before falling 1-0 to Region 1 rival Davis in the state 5-A title game at Rio Tinto.
Much like the Lakers, the Silver Wolves return numerous key pieces of their squad, including stellar sophomore Jordan Praeter, who finished last season with eight goals and scored in six of Fremont's final eight games in 2010.
Praeter is again leading the way early for the Silver Wolves, having notched three goals. Jesse Wilson has two goals for Fremont, which sits at 2-2-0.
Davis (4-0-0), Viewmont (3-0-0) and Weber (3-1-0) are all off to strong starts in Region 1 action, as are two teams that missed the postseason last year - Roy and Northridge.
The Royals are 1-1-1, coming off a 1-0 road win at Weber last week, while the Knights are 2-2-0 despite not having played a home game yet.
Layton Christian (2-2-0) is off to one of its strongest starts in recent years, sitting at 2-2, with narrow losses to rivals and traditional 2-A powers St. Joseph and Waterford.
In Region 11, Juan Diego is 4-1-0, while the rest of the league has combined for just five wins.
However, that means teams like Morgan, Bear River and Ben Lomond can make the state tournament with strong surges in region play.
* CHRISTIAN HERITAGE 1, WEST RIDGE 1 (2OT): At Roy West Park, the Crusaders (1-3-1) battled hard but settled for a tie.
After West Ridge's Tyrel Pehrson scored in the first half, Jordan Jones equalized for Christian Heritage with 13 mintues to go in regulation.
Strong defense from Jake Sabin and Dom Zanbergen as well as goalkeeper Nick Hammond kept West Ridge scoreless the rest of the way.
* LAYTON CHRISTIAN 2, MAESER PREP 0: At Lindon, goalkeeper Reic Wendel earned the shutout while Jake Iam and Seung Hyeon Son scored goals for the Eagles.
LCA improved to 2-2-0 on the young season.
* CHRISTIAN HERITAGE 11, WEST RIDGE 0: At Roy West Park, the Crusaders were shorthanded but still had a strong offensive attack.
Ally Ellis finished with six goals, whil Emilie Volk and Emily Burns each had a pair for CHS. Mercedes Brown added the final goal for Christian Heritage.
Keeper Sarah Boertz earned the shutout.
* LAYTON 21, CLEARFIELD 1: At Clearfield, a tough finish for Falcons pitchers turned the game into a Region 1 rout.
Kayla Williams started well on the mound, but took a line drive to her shoulder and was unable to find the strike zone. Three more pitchers didn't have much better luck as Clearfield issued 16 walks.
Lauryn Kirschner had three hits and a walk for the Lancers, who had nine hits. Carlee Beck tossed the two-hitter to pick up the win.
Varsity coaches are encouraged to report the results of their games and matches as soon as possible each evening by calling 801-625-4261 or 801-625-4264. Results can also be e-mailed to email@example.com.