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Short but sweet: Lily Boyden’s lone year of high school soccer capped off with 2021 Deseret News Ms. Soccer

Unable to play high school soccer for three years, Boyden only played 80 days but accomplished more than most players do in four years.

Skyline High School’s Lily Boyden poses for a portrait at the school in Millcreek on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021.
Skyline High School’s Lily Boyden poses for a portrait at the school in Millcreek on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. Lily is the Deseret News’ 2021 Ms. Soccer.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Lily Boyden’s high school soccer career lasted just 80 days.

Unable to play high school soccer for her first three years of eligibility due to obligations to her club team, Boyden only donned her No. 11 Skyline jersey from early August until late October.

Though it wasn’t quite as long of a high school career as she may have liked, Boyden accomplished more in her 80 days of high school soccer than most players do in four years.

In her lone season, Boyden finished with 34 goals (tied for fifth most in the state) and 12 assists (tied for fourth most in 5A), all while leading her team to a 5A state championship victory and an undefeated season.

“Going into the season, I wasn’t planning on going undefeated,” Boyden said. “It was an unimaginable experience. I just went in knowing I wanted to get the most out of it. This was my one year (of high school soccer) so I was going to just work the hardest I could. But the fact that we went undefeated — sometimes it takes me a moment to process it — but to know we did it my senior year, it was phenomenal.”

And to top off what already appeared to be a flawless, albeit short-lived prep career, Boyden is the 2021 Deseret News Ms. Soccer recipient.

“I was very pleased and happy, but I was not surprised,” Skyline coach Yamil Castillo said when asked his thoughts when he learned Boyden would be receiving the award. “Given how well the team did and how strong of a player she is in so many aspects. She’s humble, she works hard and she’s very coachable.”

During and after her remarkable one-and-done season, some of her Skyline teammates speculated with Boyden what they would have accomplished if she had played multiple years, but Boyden said that it was the experiences she had during the years of not playing high school that allowed her to have the dominant season she had this year.

For her junior year, Boyden played an entire season of club soccer on a team with boys her age. She said that the game was much more physical and the speed of play was faster while she played with the boys, but it taught her how to make quicker decisions and be more creative on the ball.

Heading into her senior year, Boyden learned that her club team would be switching leagues, which would allow her to play high school soccer. Boyden then had the option to either play another season with her boys team or spend her last year of eligibility playing for Skyline.

Though it took her some time to process that playing for her school was a possibility, Boyden decided that she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play with her sister, Annie, who was a sophomore on the Skyline team.

Eager to have her on the team, Skyline teammates like captain Ali Swensen would text Boyden to let her know when and where all team activities were, while others would reach out to her, encouraging her to come and play on the team. Boyden said that knowing she was wanted by her future teammates made the decision to play for the Eagles that much easier.

After the decision was made and Boyden began participating in team activities, it didn’t take long for her to make an impact.

“I had heard that she was a good player, but I had never met her before,” Castillo said. “She came, and as soon as I saw her in warmups, working with the team, I saw that she was good. But when we started to play games in the preseason and she started to score (goals) I was like, ‘This kid is not good, she’s great.’ It was incredible.”

Suddenly, a Skyline team that advanced to the semifinals in 2020, and was already going to be a contender this season, became even more special.

Though Boyden’s individual ability to score goals was apparent immediately, Castillo said he was curious to see how she would play with the team.

“Sometimes when you get players as good as her, it’s about them and it’s not about the team,” Castillo said. “As a coach, I thought about whether she would be able to connect with the team and she did. That’s the one thing that makes her even greater: her attitude toward her teammates.

“It was never about, ‘I’m a prima donna,’ or ‘I’m the best,’ she always had a positive attitude, complimenting her teammates and celebrating with her teammates. It was never about her.”

Thanks to her team-first attitude, Boyden quickly became a seamless fit for the Eagles as an attacking player, elevating not just her area of the field, but the rest of her teammates on the field as well.

Castillo said that her ability to get other players involved became crucial, especially during the state tournament, when Boyden’s goal-scoring ability was no longer a well-kept secret. Teams were throwing two or three defenders her way, but Boyden was able to exploit the tactic and find an open teammate.

Still, no matter how many defenders the opposition put between Boyden and the goal, the speedy forward couldn’t be subdued. In four playoff games, Boyden recorded seven goals and two assists, including a brace and an assist in Skyline’s championship victory over Lehi— a perfect cap to what was a perfect lone season for the eventual Ms. Soccer winner.

“I didn’t necessarily go into the season wanting to win Ms. Soccer,” Boyden said. “But I’m proud of myself, knowing that all the goals I scored and winning state counted toward that. I just wanted to work hard and make the most of it, but knowing my efforts paid off is really an awesome feeling.”

With her stellar senior season now in the rearview mirror, Boyden will play soccer at the collegiate level for Washington State, where she hopes to make as much noise as she did at the high school level.

“I want to go there, train with them and win a Pac-12 championship,” Boyden said. “But ultimately I want to win an NCAA championship and, as of right now, that’s my biggest goal.”