5A girls' soccer: Hillcrest blanks Bingham
Midvale • Bingham was simply better than Hillcrest two months ago.
The roles were reversed Tuesday in the Class 5A girls' soccer state tournament.
The Huskies showed the improvements they have made over the course of the season by blanking the visiting Miners 1-0 in the first round. Bingham defeated Hillcrest 6-1 in the first game of the season in August.
"We had 15 games to learn from there," Hillcrest coach Megan Beckstead said. "We went in confident today. I was a little worried going into the game if we'd be prepared or not."
Hillcrest will host Viewmont in the quarterfinals at 4 p.m. Thursday.
Skye Jefferies broke a scoreless game in the 70th minute following a give-and-go with Sadie McLachlan.
"I took a touch through a player, switched the ball to my right foot and scored in the lower left corner," Jefferies said. "I was confident about the shot. It was a great relief to score because we were the underdogs. They didn't see it coming."
In fact, the loss was only the Miners' third in the first round over the last decade. Bingham has reached at least the quarterfinal round eight times since 2003. While Hillcrest lacks that pedigree, it is establishing its own history. The Huskies will host a second-round playoff game for the first time in school history.
Beckstead called the earlier loss to Bingham a blessing in disguise. After a 2-3 start to the season, Hillcrest has won 11 consecutive games.
"I'm glad we lost to them," said Beckstead, whose team also won its first-ever region championship (10-0). "It's difficult to beat a team twice in a year."
Bingham had a chance to go ahead just six minutes before Jefferies' goal. Caitlyn Stainbrook's shot deflected off the crossbar following a series of passes by Libby Weber and Kortney Wells. Hillcrest goalie Nicole Jessen pressured the play, and the rebound attempt went wide left and out for a Bingham corner.
Jessen, the Region 2 MVP, earned her sixth shutout of the season.
Instead of packing it in on defense, Hillcrest continued to attack following its go-ahead score. Bingham still had its chances, but nothing materialized.
"It was the longest 10 minutes of my life," Beckstead said.
In an effort to prepare her team for the playoffs, Beckstead had her players do homework. Their assignments ranged from writing about why they were going to be state champions to telling Beckstead their soccer story and how it ends.
"It has made us come together," Jefferies said. "We've been tearing up every practice. We're ready for the second round."
O All games at 4 p.m. unless noted
Class 3A tournament
Uintah at North Sanpete
Tooele at Dixie
Desert Hills at Bear River
Richfield at Park City
Stansbury at Cedar City
Morgan at Payson
Pine View at Juan Diego, 3 p.m.
Snow Canyon at Ben Lomond
Class 2A tournament
(North Sevier vs. Gunnison winner) at Waterford
Parowan at South Summit, 2 p.m.
St. Joseph at Delta
Maeser Prep at Grand County
Layton Christian at Millard
American Leadership at Rowland Hall
South Sevier at Manti
Diamond Ranch at Summit Academy