Woods Cross • It was a bit of a sloppy, physical game, and the weather on the field had all the warmth and comfort of a meat locker.
But for the Woods Cross boys’ soccer team, consider Tuesday’s 3-0 victory over Copper Hills a great success. It’s about as good as it gets in a preseason this wintry.
“This is great for us,” senior midfielder Justin Ward said. “We’re a young team, and it shows we’re coming together.”
Ward was the Wildcats’ top weapon in the game, scoring a pair of goals. In the 24th minute, he knocked in a free kick in what amounted to a somewhat straight-on shot to give Woods Cross its initial lead.
He iced the game in the 80th minute with a 35-yard boot that was a little more unexpected.
“The goalie was a little bit out, so I just launched it with the wind,” Ward said.
Matt Cunningham also had a goal for the Wildcats, burying a rebound off a Marcos Melchor save that gave the team a 2-0 lead early in the second half.
Copper Hills held possession fairly well in the first half, but Woods Cross asserted itself with aggression that sometimes spilled into penalties. The Wildcats received six yellow cards during the game.
Nevertheless, a win over a competitive 5A program was a good sign for a program that graduated eight starters from last season.
“We basically lost our entire defense this year,” coach Kevin Rigby said. “We picked a starting lineup today, and we still have a lot of unknown quantities. But I already feel better about the chemistry of the team this year than last year.”
The Grizzlies, who won a region title last season, weren’t panicking at the loss.
The team is still picking up the pieces after losing a forward for the season with a broken foot. But coach Eddie Moura said he saw positive signs from his group.
“We had good movement in the back and the middle, but we were a little bit overwhelmed in the attacking end,” he said. “I think we could have some success once we work a little bit more on that side.”
Wildcats pick up preseason win
• Woods Cross begins the season with a 3-0 home victory over Copper Hills
• Senior midfielder Justin Ward records a pair of goals for the Wildcats
• Senior goalkeeper Truman Ballard gets the shutout