Prep girls' soccer: 5A, 4A state tourney fields feature balance
Viewmont knows this best: Getting there is no guarantee.
The Vikings have been to the Class 5A championship each of the last two years. Each time they came away empty-handed. So there's no illusions that a No. 1 seed somehow will bring them back.
They're going to have to earn it.
"This group of girls is no different in their expectations than in previous years," Viewmont coach Emalee Tate said. "They've done an awesome job stepping up."
Viewmont will be one of the players, but not necessarily the favorite in a flattened 5A field for the state soccer tournament. Don't expect domination out of any one or two programs, like Alta and the Vikings showed last year.
The Hawks look prepared to defend their championship as the only unbeaten 5A team remaining. Alta has a solid core of upperclassmen, such as goalkeeper Elyssa Hashimoto and midfielder Bizzy Phillips. The Hawks already have won two tangles with main rival Brighton, albeit by one-goal margins.
Davis is back in the mix after finding success with a younger core than the team had in previous years. Bingham surprised Region 4 competition by coming all the way back from a dismal 2011 campaign to a No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
Both Region 1 and Region 4 have their way of producing tournament Cinderellas. Lone Peak and Riverton both potentially are explosive, while Fremont and Northridge have a bit of a history of upending better seeds.
Then there's Viewmont, which retooled its lineup to emphasize defense, but still has three players with more than 10 goals.
Alta coach Lee Mitchell has won five titles in the last six years, but he's not ready to call the race over before it's begun.
"We just try to do the things we've done all year," he said. "A lot of teams have a good shot. Anything can happen."
Of the four defending champions, Timpanogos appears the most vulnerable. That's why a number of teams are eager to get into the scrum in 4A, and there's a lot of familiar names.
Skyline might be the most prominent, having not lost a game since its season opener. The Eagles, a state finalist last season, now have two deadly scoring options with Ashley Aberton and Jaslyn Masina paired with the same tight defense they played last year. But the state's best defense belongs to Bonneville. The Lakers, led by keeper Megan Fillpot, have allowed only six goals.
Bountiful is back from a slow preseason after sweeping through Region 6 for an outright title. The Timberwolves likely will go deep again, but another Region 8 team, Maple Mountain, could be even stronger.