If Rock Canyon soccer is going to have a successful season, each player will have a say.
Every person on the field for Rock Canyon High School girls soccer is expected to have an important role with the team, fourth-year Jaguars coach Mat Henbest said. Returning from a 7-6-4 overall record last year with a third-place finish in the Continental League, the Jags are showing a balance of maturity, talent and enthusiasm.
In addition to its returning pool, Rock Canyon has two seniors back on the field in Katie Lillard and Nancy Hunt. Both players missed their junior season as they rehabilitated ACL tears. Along with Lillard and Hunt, Brittney Evanson, Rachel Branson, Taylor Staab and Lauren Wood, the team’s returning seniors, are expected to provide leadership for the team and keep the team emotionally grounded, the coach said.
Henbest said one aspect of this season that should be exciting is Rock Canyon’s tools for finding the back of the net.
“I think we have the potential for scoring a lot of goals this season, which should make us fun to watch,” he said.
With non-conference games under way, Henbest said Mountain Vista will be the team to beat when the Jags enter their Continental League schedule. Vista, the defending Class 5A state champion, eliminated Rock Canyon from last year’s playoffs in the second round.
Despite the Golden Eagles’ traditional toughness, Henbest and company are prepared to not take any league opponent lightly.
“On any given day every team in the league can beat you,” the coach said. “I think we have more talent than in the past, but our ability to work hard for each other will determine our fate in the league and possibly state.”
Henbest said the unpredictable spring weather and a lack of practice time when compared to the amount of games are also tough challenges for any high school girls soccer program.
Rock Canyon started its season 1-1-1. The Jags lost its season opener on the road against Arapahoe 2-1 but followed with an 8-0 win over Bear Creek. Canyon played host to Mullen for its home opener and finished in a 0-0 tie against the Mustangs.
While the Jags’ seniors provide the leadership, the underclassmen bring additional scoring talent. Against Creek, freshman Rebecca Pousma scored four goals, while freshman Rachel Reinhardt had four assists. Sophomore Kaycie Young, who scored the Jags’ only goal against Arapahoe, had two goals in the Bear Creek game.
Goalkeeper Julia Henning, also a sophomore and known to her teammates as “The Beast,” shared responsibilities with Evanson for the shutout over Creek. Henning also had seven saves to keep Mullen out of the net as well.