Prep Girls Soccer: Pleasant Grove starts hot
Pleasant Grove • The Pleasant Grove girls soccer players are having more fun than should be allowed at practice.
It's raining on a Friday afternoon, but the Vikings' parade won't be dampened.
"Can you believe this is our team?" coach Caitlin Young said, turning to see players smiling, joking, laughing.
There hasn't been too much to be happy about in Pleasant Grove's program in recent years. A fifth-place finish in Region 4 last season was the latest in a long line of sub-.500 finishes.
But those results and that culture now seems long gone. The Vikings entered the week as one of two unbeaten teams in the state, and their 8-0 start easily the best in school history.
"The girls who have been part of the losing streak have all graduated," senior forward Lucy Borland said. "We're a new team. That's gone. It's a completely different attitude now."
The Vikings are doing it with a balance of offense and defense. They shut out five consecutive opponents before allowing two goals to American Fork last week, and they are averaging more than three goals per game.
"We have more talent than we've had in years past," senior defender Shelby Hilton said. "We have probably the best offensive team we've ever had at PG."
The goalkeeping tandem of Alicia Daniels and Kenedii Williams has combined for 11 consecutive scoreless halves. But Young said the players in front of them were equally responsible for the impressive feat.
"Our goalkeepers make huge saves every game," said Young, who is in her third year as Vikings coach. "But we play high-pressure forwards, so our first defender is our center forward. Our theme is to be hard to get through each line."
Borland, who is tied with Ashley McBree for the team lead with four goals, said players realized things were changing in the program during tryouts this summer "We've never worked that hard at tryouts," she said and that work has paid off.
The Vikings, who have 11 seniors on the roster, passed their only real test last week with a 1-0 double-overtime victory against Lehi. Now Pleasant Grove faces Riverton today in a battle for first place in Region 4.
Win or lose, Borland believes this is the year Pleasant Grove breaks through and reaches the postseason.
"Since our freshman year, we've been dreaming about going to state," Borland said. "We're going to do it. I have no doubt in my mind."
Great for eight
Pleasant Grove enters the week 8-0 and has allowed just four goals so far this season.
The Vikings, who have never made the playoffs, are one of two unbeaten teams in the state.
The scoring tandem of Ashley McBee and Lucy Borland balances the play of goalkeepers Alicia Daniels and Kenedii Williams, who have combined for five shutouts.
See more about comments here.