In last season’s playoffs, the No. 2-seeded Mountain Ridge Sentinels were upset by No. 10-seeded Olympus in the quarterfinals despite having only lost one game in the regular season.
This season, the Sentinels find themselves on mission to prove that last year’s upset loss was just a fluke — and they’re making a pretty strong case.
In their Tuesday evening matchup with Herriman — the only other team to beat Mountain Ridge last year — the Sentinels managed to strengthen their position as one of the state’s best teams with a commanding 20-4 victory over the Mustangs on the road.
With the win, the Sentinels were able to maintain the momentum they’ve seized following a loss to 6A’s top-ranked Skyridge on March 18. Since the defeat, Mountain Ridge has won five straight games, outscoring its opponents by 80 combined goals during the streak (98-18).
Head coach Angie Brescia said that the loss to Skyridge was the best thing that could’ve happened to her squad, and given the team’s recent results, it’s hard to dispute that claim.
“Last season we didn’t have a loss until Herriman towards the end of the season,” Brescia said. “So going up against tough competition and actually seeing what you need to work on that early (in the season) has been a game changer for us. We’ve been able to focus on our weaknesses and we’ll be better prepared and improved each game because of that.”
Squaring off against the Mustangs, it looked as though the Sentinels had no weakness as they defended and attacked at a high level throughout the match.
Conceding two goals in eight minutes to start the game, Mountain Ridge put the clamps on and outscored Herriman 16-2 over the remaining 42 minutes of gameplay.
With two freshmen starting in the defense, Brescia said that the team’s defense has been a work in progress, but it is finally starting to find its groove.
Helping the defense in the back was senior goalkeeper Bekah Bargeron, whose family moved to Mountain Ridge boundaries from Viewmont during her final year of eligibility. Bargeron came up with plenty of crucial saves during Tuesday’s game, including four saves on penalty shots.
Brescia said that having Bargeron move into the area has been a blessing that she plans on taking full advantage of.
“Having Bekah (in goal) is freaking huge for us,” Brescia said. “She’s a natural leader, she sees the whole field for us, and she’s been great at communicating and helping those new players see where they need to be. … But she had some amazing saves for us today.”
Defense wasn’t the only area where the Sentinels thrived. With eight different players making their way onto the scoresheet, the team showed that they have multiple players who get themselves a goal.
Senior Morgan Mackey led the way, scoring a game-high six goals for the Sentinels. Mackey was followed by Emmery Clark (four goals), as well as Aubrie Shaw, Paige Runia, Tessa Mortensen and Kiarra Clarin, who scored two goals apiece.
Runia also managed to notch a game-high three assists for Mountain Ridge.
The Mustangs were led by junior Morgan Eldredge, who recorded two goals and an assist for her side.
Brescia said that having a variety of attackers who can find the back of the net will make Mountain Ridge that much harder to stop.
“I have confidence that every single attacker we put out there is going to score,” Brescia said. “When the other team focuses on shutting one player down, then it’s just creating opportunities for the other girls.”
Now sitting at 6-1 on the season, the Sentinels — who currently are the fourth-ranked team in the 6A RPI — will continue to work to avenge what they felt was a disappointing exit from last year’s postseason.
“Olympus was a head game for us and they just couldn’t snap out of it that day,” Brescia said. “They don’t want that to happen again and they’re doing everything in their power to not only become stronger physically, but stronger mentally as well. The game is a mental game and whoever wants it more is going to get it — and our team definitely wants it.”