Coach Kevin Rigby kept saying it all season: "We don't need to be the best team in August or September, but we want to be the best, and playing our best, in October."
The Woods Cross soccer team did just that, playing its best soccer in the middle of October to win the 4A state championship.
Early season losses to Bonneville and Bountiful put the Wildcats in an unenviable position. They were trailing in a tough Region 5 by two games. As it turned out, the two losses, and two draws that came later in the season, were too much for even the talented team to overcome, but those losses to the Lakers and Braves came at the end of August and beginning of September, a time when they did not matter as much.
Woods Cross avenged the losses on its way to the title. The Wildcats dispatched Bonneville in the semifinals 2-1, and then defeated Bountiful in a shootout to take home the crown. Rigby's thoughts played out perfectly.
"Our team worked so hard all year, and after losing last year in the finals, they didn't want to have that happen again. I couldn't be any more proud of a team than I am right now," said Rigby after the title game.
The Wildcats relied on talent and experience. Eight of the 11 starters were seniors, and the other three juniors. Everyone knew that the Robinson twins, Kelly and Abby, would be looked upon to lead the offense, but it was a move to three forwards that really jump-started the scoring. Moving Kassidy Christensen to forward from her midfield spot solidified an already feared attack. Christensen ended up leading the team in scoring with 18 goals and nine assists while Kelly added 16 goals and 10 assists and Abby six goals with a whopping 15 assists.
The midfield was hurt by Christensen's move, but the remaining three picked up the slack where needed. Brooke Petersen played inspired as a playmaker and tough defender while Ashley Hunter and Alexis Redd provided excellent support to the attack and great defense retreating back, but Woods Cross would not have won without its back four playing well.
"Our defense was underrated all year," Rigby said. "I thought Jenelyn Perry and Katie Beeton were as good in the middle as anyone, and Andreia (Dixon) has been one of the best in the state at outside back for two years now."
The fourth, and sometimes overlooked, defender was Katie Sheffield who held her own on the right side. As good as the defense was, occasionally the offense got off some shots. That was when it was nice to have all-state goalkeeper Haley Andersen in the net.
"Haley is very, very capable," said Rigby. "Besides being a great keeper, she has so much going for fer. She was our emotional and inspirational leader. She was a three-year captain, and she always was a joy to be around."
Besides her own inspiration, Andersen also brought an outside source. Her grandmother is suffering from breast cancer, and the whole team looked at her like their own. With pink ribbons tied to their shoes, the players dedicated their efforts to her as well.
The 2005 season was one for the ages to Woods Cross. With all the departing seniors, next season may be more of a struggle, but for two weeks in October, nobody could touch the Wildcats.
Woods Cross season results
Aug. 9 — Woods Cross 2, Davis 1
Aug. 18 — Woods Cross 2, Timpview 0
Aug. 23 — Woods Cross 5, Box Elder 1
Aug. 25 — Bonneville 4, Woods Cross 1
Sept. 1 — Woods Cross 5, Mountain Crest 2
Sept. 6 — Woods Cross 4, Roy 1
Sept. 8 — Bountiful 1, Woods Cross 0
Sept. 13 — Woods Cross 2, Sky View 1
Sept. 15 — Woods Cross 8, Box Elder 0
Sept. 20 — Woods Cross 3, Bonneville 2
Sept. 27 — Woods Cross 4, Mountain Crest 4 (2OT)
Sept. 29 — Woods Cross 2, Roy 1
Oct. 4 — Bountiful 1, Woods Cross 1 (2OT)
Oct. 6 — Woods Cross 1, Sky View 0
Oct. 11 — Woods Cross 9, Provo 0
Oct. 13 — Woods Cross 2, Mtn. Crest 0
Oct. 20 — Woods Cross 2, Bonneville 1
Oct. 22 — Woods Cross 1, Bountiful 0 (2OT, shootout)