The race for the Region 10 girls soccer title hinges on the statistical team leaders. In the 3A classification, the top three teams in goal differential are Park City, Wasatch and Judge.
Park City leads the category by averaging nearly eight goals a game and surrendering less than one. Of course, it helps when you have two players who average two goals a game. The Miners have Kelly Isleib, the reigning MVP of the 3A classification, and returning all-state player Elli Reed.
Goalkeeper Alex Phillips and the defense have proven themselves against all-comers this preseason, defeating 5A teams from Fremont, Skyline and defending state champion Alta. But the team will go as Isleib takes them. She is not only a leading scorer, she is flat-out the team leader.
"Kelly leads by example," said Park City coach Chip Cook. "She has all the skills; she can shoot, pass, score or defend, but one thing about her is that she makes everyone else around her a better player."
Should Park City slip even a little bit, Judge is right there to pounce on the region title. Judge, which has been to four consecutive state championship games, won the Italy Cup in Cesenatico, Italy, in the first week of July.
The Bulldogs entered the tournament as just one of 158 teams from 21 countries but left as the under-17 champions. Judge took first from its pool of 10 teams, defeating clubs from Denmark and Sweden as well as a couple of U.S. teams.
"The girls really rose to the occasion," said coach Wayne Voorhees. "There were other teams that were far better technically, but the girls focused on winning. They realized that they had come a long way to play soccer, and they just were not going to be denied."
The team gained championship experience, a dangerous thing for its competitors when it already boasts as much talent as it does. Danielle Griffin is an all-state goalkeeper who can single-handedly keep the Bulldogs in games. Corinne Davies and Erika Samlowski return with their combined 14 goals and a year more mature with plenty of experience, while Alex May will lead the defense.
The Region 10 power continues with Wasatch. The Wasps may be one of the best five teams in the state. Unfortunately for coach Dawain Wheatley and the rest of the team, they are in a region with Judge and Park City.
"We have finished third for so many straight years," he said. "One of our team goals this year was not to take third. Every year we end up having to travel for the opening-round game, and we never really get a chance to show what we think we can do."
Wasatch lost 12 seniors from its quarterfinal squad of a year ago, but Wheatley feels they still have the talent to compete. Stevie North leads at the back from her sweeper position, and Becca Knapp is a quality keeper.
(Order of finish predicted by coaches)
1. PARK CITY: With the reigning 3A MVP in Kelly Isleib, and returning all-state player Elli Reed, everyone expected the Miners to be good, just perhaps not this good. Park City is beating up on everyone in the state, not just the 3A classification. With wins over Alta, Skyline and Fremont of 5A, this team may be the best not only in 3A, but period. Goalie Alex Phillips is allowing under a goal a game, and with a terrific freshman class, this team may be on top a long time. LAST SEASON: 15-3-1. PLAYOFFS: State champions.
2. JUDGE MEMORIAL: The Bulldogs went to Italy over the summer and came back as champions. A terrific confidence boost to a team that is a constant threat to win the title. With two titles and two other title game appearances in the last four years, Judge is the standard for 3A soccer. Goalkeeper Dani Griffin is one of the top in the state, and Corinne Davies and Erika Samlowski can score with the best. Alex May leads a strong defense. LAST SEASON: 15-3-2. PLAYOFFS: Lost in championship.
3. WASATCH: Coach Dawain Wheatley has a nice mix of young and experienced players, but once again being in a region with Judge and Park City makes things difficult. Tera Gehring and AmberFord have established themselves in the offense. StevieNorth leads a stout defense, and behind the defense it is tough to get the ball past goalkeeper BeccaKnapp. LASTSEASON: 11-6-1. PLAYOFFS: Lost in quarterfinals.
4. UINTAH: The Utes are going to be shifting personell and styles with new coach Tyler Fawcett. Scoring goals is going to be tough for this team, but Desiree Winn and Kaleena Peltier have shown the ability to find the back of the net. With the region getting four playoff spots, it is still possible for Uintah to sneak into the playoffs. LAST SEASON: 6-10. PLAYOFFS: Lost in first round.
5. MORGAN: Perhaps no team was more affected by the realignment than the Trojans. A team that had been near the top of the old Region 11 standings nearly every year, it now must compete with the toughest three teams consistently in the classification. Coach Tracy Woodward will rely on goalkeeper Hillarie Walker to keep things close while hoping that they can get enough goals from players such as Jill Little and Shanae Wilkinson. LAST SEASON: 5-9-2. PLAYOFFS: Missed.
6. UNION: The Cougars have some work to do this season if they would like not only to win a game, but to compete in them. Coach Van Parker will need some time to build this program into a winner in this very strong region. Hailey Crozier has scored one of two goals on the season for the team. LAST SEASON: 2-14. PLAYOFFS: Missed.