Sandy • The Alta girls' soccer team is the favorite to win the Class 5A state championship this season, and a big reason is midfielder Bizzy Phillips.
Phillips was named The Tribune's Class 5A MVP as well as Gatorade's Utah player of the year as a junior. She helped lead her team to the state title game, where the Hawks lost to Viewmont in double overtime.
Phillips scored 22 goals and tallied 18 assists last season and already committed to BYU.
"Bizzy is our energizer bunny, our heart and soul," Alta coach Lee Mitchell said. "She makes those players around her better."
But no discussion about Phillips and challenging for state titles would be complete without a discussion of those players around the 5-foot-4 midfielder.
The Hawks return 13 seniors this season, which is two more than the 11 players who can start. Shaylyn Orr, a defender, also committed to BYU. Midfielder Carly Dehlin is drawing interest from Dixie State and BYU-Hawaii. The Hawks are loaded without Phillips in the equation.
"We're almost the same team as last year, which is nice because we know how each other play," Phillips said.
It's also nice because the Hawks dominated most of last season. They beat five different opponents 8-0. During Phillips' sophomore season, when she scored 11 goals and Alta won the 5A state championship, the Hawks shut out seven different teams 8-0.
"It's always nice to have experience," Mitchell said. "If they've been successful, and these kids have at both the high school and club level, that helps. â¦ They have the potential to be one of the best teams at Alta."
But despite the big blowouts and gaudy goal-scoring numbers, there's only one game that stands out in the girls' minds the last-minute, championship game loss to Viewmont. And Mitchell is making sure they don't forget.
"When we're not working enough," Orr said, "he motivates us and says 'Remember what happened last year guy. You need to work hard because in those last few minutes, that's when we can lose it.' We don't know what can happen, so we really are working harder, making sure we're in shape."
Phillips said it's the memory that is driving this team.
"In the last five minutes of running, he's always like 'Do you want to get down to those five minutes again and lose?' We're like, 'No. Keep going guys, we got this.' So it's good really good motivation for us."
But what motivates Phillips and her teammates just as much is the brick wall in the office next to the soccer field, where players from past championship teams have signed their names.
"It makes you want to be them," Orr said. "Be that team and have those victories. We want our name on that wall."
"It's an honor," Dehlin said. "It's an honor to go after all these victories."
"It's a lot more than a soccer team," Dehlin added, then paused.
Phillips and Orr helped her finish her thought, the three saying in unison "It's like a family."
But there will be one member of that family who the rest look to more often than not this season.
"There's pressure," Phillips said. "There's a lot to live up to. There's a lot of tradition, and we have to work really hard because everybody's counting on us, and we're counting on ourselves. It's definitely pressure, but not overwhelming. It's good pressure."
Prep girls' soccer teams to watch
Teams to keep an eye on entering the girls' soccer season:
Viewmont (5A) • The defending Class 5A state champions lose a boatload of talent, especially in the scoring department. But returner Abbie Flandro, who had 12 goals a year ago, will spearhead the Viking attack, while Haley Johnson should take over for the graduated Ashley Earnshaw between the pipes.
Alta (5A) • Headlined by Bizzy Phillips, Madie Lyons and Sydney Fitzpatrick, the Hawks have a shot at reaching the 5A state title match once again.
Bonneville (4A) • How can the Lakers, last year's 4A champs, replace the likes of Megan Fillpot, Sienna Thornock and Emilee Tafunai? The task will tough, but Bonneville will have to lean on its youngsters in hopes of defending the state crown.
Bountiful (4A) • The Braves fell to Bonneville 1-0 in the 4A title match a year ago, but they have the talent to make a deep run in the playoffs with the likes of Charity Cole and Christina Plank returning.
Timpanogos (4A) • The Timberwolves have young returning talent, including defender Rachelle Warner, forward Jordyn Chung-Hoon and goalkeeper Sydney Oldroyd.
Park City (3A) • The Miners have suffered heart-wrenching losses in two of the last three 3A finals. But Park City is stocked with returning goal-scorers, including seniors Jessica Dancy and Maggie Reigelsperger. The Miners also have key returners such as Kenzie Bothner, Taylor Hodgsen and Alysan Casey.
Ogden (3A) • Ogden has developed into a powerhouse in 3A. The Tigers, champs in 2011, lost one game a year ago and return star Kiley Porter, who is now a seasoned veteran as a senior.
Waterford (2A) • Waterford has a strong chance of repeating as state champions from a year ago, mainly due to its strong junior class featuring the likes of Grace Sponaugle, Caroline Coats and Emmeline Anderson. Throw in senior keeper Lauren Groathouse, and the Ravens looked stacked for 2013. Players to watch
Players to keep an eye on entering the girls' soccer season:
Sarah Beecher, sr., Davis, GK • Beecher had seven shutouts a year ago on a 15-2-1 Darts squad. She'll be the backbone of the Davis defense in this her senior season.
McKinley Brinkerhoff, sr., Spanish Fork, Forward • Brinkerhoff scored 42 yes, 42 goals as a junior with the Dons. That's good enough for averaging more than two goals per outing. She'll no doubt lead the Spanish Fork attack again this year.
Mariah Elmer, sr., Fremont, Forward • Elmer scored 26 goals in 16 matches for a Fremont team that finished second in Region 1 at 11-6-1. She's considered one of the top offensive talents in 5A.
Kyra Fawcett, jr., Woods Cross, Forward • Fawcett was one of the more dynamic forwards in 4A as a sophomore, scoring 16 goals for the Wildcats. Woods Cross will aim to keep her atop the scoring lists this season.
Grace Walton, sr., Snow Canyon, GK • Walton was tied for the most shutouts pitched by a keeper in 2012 with 12, including posting a shutout in the 3A state title win over Park City last fall. The Warriors lose talent, but Walton is the rock.
Kiley Porter, sr., Ogden, Forward • While Porter loses her scoring mate in Avery Calton, it shouldn't stop her from shouldering the load for the Tigers this fall. Porter scored 25 goals last season and could top that if asked to take on a more attacking role in the Ogden offense.
Kate Weil, jr., St. Joseph, Forward • Weil had a team-high 13 goals a year ago and led the Jayhawks to the 2A state title match. She'll once again lead the charge in dethroning Waterford.
Chelsey Keefer, sr., Summit Academy, Forward • Keefer had 17 goals a year ago and will join sophomore forward Hannah Stewart and senior defender Morgan Fox to help the Bears make some noise in 2A.