High School Girls Soccer - Ogden vs. Syracuse 01

Ogden's Kadrey Howell (9) fights for the ball against Syracuse in the first half of the game on Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, at the Spence Eccles Ogden Community Sports Complex in Ogden.

OGDEN — The powers that be decreed that girls soccer season in Utah begins smack in the middle of meteorological summer.

That gave Syracuse and Ogden High an air temperature of 99 degrees for its 6 p.m. kickoff and an artificial turf temperature probably higher than that.

No matter, the Titans looked their same old selves in a 3-0 win over the Tigers to kick off the 2019 campaign.

The scoreline may be a little bit deceiving, owing to the fact that Ogden brings back several starters and appears to be poised for a good season.

That was not lost on SHS head coach Taylor Allen.

“I thought their midfield killed our midfield,” he said. “And that’s OK, because we want to work on it and they have some good players. (Alysia Butters) was dangerous.”

Syracuse’s usual cast of standouts did the heavy lifting. BYU commit midfielder Caroline Stringfellow assisted two goals and provided a good corner kick service on a third.

Defender Kelsey Steed, who’s committed to Northern Arizona, cashed in on the corner kick in the 38th minute to break a scoreless tie and what had looked like Ogden’s game to control prior to the corner kick.

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Up to that point, the Tigers defenders had batted away each attempted Titans attack with defender Kate Larson doing a good job to stymie Syracuse forward Ashlyn Hall.

Ogden’s Abby Beus nearly leveled the scoring just after halftime, but her shot from the left side of the box rattled off the post. Nine minutes later, Stringfellow sent a through ball up to Hall, who scored with the outside of her right foot to make it 2-0.

“When you play one of the best teams in the state for your first game, we played well. I think that we outplayed them in the first half,” Ogden coach Skylar Stam said.

Junior midfielder Keelee Cella scored a spectacular goal to give the Titans the final scoreline in the 73rd minute. Stringfellow passed to Cella at the top of the penalty box. Cella hit a well-placed shot into the top corner.

The Titans’ central defender combo of Steed and Jenna Kelly made sure the chances Ogden did get were fleeting and difficult to pull off.

THE BIG NUMBERS QUESTION

The kickoff for the 2019 season isn’t just the start of another season and school year. It’s the start of a new playoff qualification system in Utah high school sports: the Ratings Power Index.

It’s a numerical formula that takes into account each game a team plays as well as each game that team’s opponents play.

The 3-0 result for Syracuse is no longer a non-region game that means nothing other than figuring out lineups. It’ll have an impact one way or another.

“You definitely think about it. I know I thought about it as I was scheduling, and we talked about it over the phone, getting Maple Mountain our second game was big. Bigger than playing these guys. That matters because we need that .25% more or whatever it is,” Allen said.

Though the Tigers lost, they likely stand to benefit from having Syracuse on their schedule in the first place.

RPI takes into account a team’s strength of schedule, and since the Titans are probably going to win at least two-thirds of their 16 games, Ogden stands to benefit.

“That’s why I scheduled them. No matter what, we’re going to get some points out of this game and it answers a lot of questions for us,” Stam said.

You can reach prep sports reporter Patrick Carr via email at pcarr@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter @patrickcarr_ and on Facebook at facebook.com/patrickcarr17/.

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