The 2021 high school girls soccer season saw a copious amount of individual and collective talent that provided a fair share of intriguing storylines.
Some players, however, were able to stand out among the talented crowd.
Here’s a look at the 2021 Deseret News girls soccer Players of the Year who made the biggest difference for their teams in each classification.
6A Player of the Year
Belle Christensen, Riverton, Sr., F
Riverton’s senior class — which led the Silverwolves to their first 6A state title in school history — is loaded with talent, but none played better this season than Belle Christensen.
Christensen scored 26 goals this season, the last coming at Rio Tinto during the championship game victory. Good for second most in the 6A classification, Christensen’s 26 goals were key in helping Riverton finish the season 19-1.
But it wasn’t just the scoring ability that allowed Christensen to leave her mark on games. Her ability to create for her teammates proved to be second to none in the 6A classification. The forward’s 12 assists were the highest in 6A.
“Belle is a great leader, goal scorer and teammate,” Riverton coach Paul Moizer said. “She became as much of a playmaker this year as she was a goal scorer. As teams started to key on her in the second half of the season, she really started setting up her teammates and creating balance in our team.”
Moizer added that Christensen’s character had just as much of an impact on the team’s success as her playmaking abilities.
“(Belle) is also one of the best people you could ever meet; she is kind, positive, smart and very supportive of her teammates,” Moizer said.
5A Player of the Year
Sammie Sofonia, Murray, Sr., F
An MVP recognition seems like a fitting way to cap off the high school career of Murray’s Sammie Sofonia, who will go down as one of the elite goal scorers in UHSAA girls soccer history.
Sofonia notched 31 goals and five assists in her senior season and finished her career with 116 goals and 26 assists in four years for the Spartans.
“Sammie is a fantastic player that has overcome a lot in her life and deserves a recognition like this,” Murray coach Brady Smith said. “Playing in one of the strongest regions in the state, Sammie, over a four-year span, was a terror for teams to stop. Her ability to finish with power and finesse is like no other forward I have ever coached.”
Much to the relief of the rest of 5A and Region 6, Murray will now face a seemingly impossible task of replacing Sofonia next season.
“She will be impossible to replace on a soccer and personal level, but I know she will move on to do great things in this world and I am personally grateful for the chance I have had to coach such a special player,” Smith said.
4A Player of the Year
Baylie Baldwin, Mountain Crest, Sr., F
Captain of the championship-winning Mountain Crest squad, Baldwin was one of the most complete forwards in the classification.
With 15 goals (third most in 4A) and 15 assists (second most in 4A), Baldwin was the only player in the classification to finish in the top five of both categories.
Baldwin’s speed and ability to create scoring chances were on full display in a title game where she nearly scored three goals before freshman Summer Sofonia buried a sudden-death free kick to secure the win.
“Baylie is one of those players that every coach hopes to have on their team,” Mountain Crest coach Amber Hyatt said. “She scored a lot of goals for us this year, but she also led the team in assists. She’s unselfish, a hard worker, a great teammate, friendly to everyone and the list goes on. She’s a very talented soccer player, but even more than that, she’s an all-around great person.”
3A Player of the Year
Neveah Peregrina, Ogden, So., MF
One only needs to watch the 3A championship game to understand why Neveah Peregrina earned the MVP honor for 3A. The sophomore midfielder scored the game’s only goal on a dazzling, in-swinging free kick that gave the Tigers the state title.
Though the goal was jaw-dropping for those who hadn’t watched Peregrina play before, it came as no surprise to her teammates and coaches who watched her make similar plays all year long.
Peregrina recorded 13 goals and seven assists for the year, but much of the impact she brings can’t be counted on a state sheet, as her energy and passion for the game visibly lift her team when she takes the field.
“(Neveah) is the definition of a joyful player,” Ogden coach Ryan Robinson said. “She loves playing, she loves competing, she is a winner and she enjoys seeing all that in her teammates. She is the first to cheer for and post her teammates’ success as well.
With two years of soccer left to play, Peregrina seems to just be scratching the surface of her potential — a scary thought for Ogden’s competitors in 3A going forward.
“Neveah is as skilled technically as any player in the state at any level,” Robinson said. “She is a sophomore and will only mature in ability, strength and understanding. She can get to any place on the field with the ball, or get the ball to anyone else anywhere on the field.”
2A Player of the Year
Seven Castain, Waterford
Seven Castain’s senior season, which will go down in state history, was more than worthy of MVP recognition.
Castain set a state record for goals in a season, finding the back of the net 71 times this year to go along with 18 assists (tied for fourth most in the state). The forward finished No. 3 in overall points on MaxPreps nationally and was the No. 2 goal leader on MaxPreps nationally.
The cherry on the top of a record-breaking season came in the 2A championship game, where Castain scored all four goals in Waterford’s 4-3 victory over Rowland Hall.
Though Castain is a top-tier athlete, Waterford coach Kimi Miyashima said it’s her preparation before she takes the pitch that granted her such exquisite success in her career for the Ravens.
“Technically and tactically, it is obvious that Seven is an exemplary soccer player and brilliant on the field,” Miyashima said. “What distinguishes Seven as a teammate, player, and person, however, is her approach to the game off the field. I’ve known her as a player since she was young and she has always had a hunger to get out and play, to continue to learn, to find ways to improve, and to push herself in every aspect of the sport because she simply loves soccer.”
Castain will be playing in the high school All-American game, representing the West, before heading to Texas Christian University to continue her soccer career.