Stingy Alta Defense Keeping Hawks Soaring
Mar 27, 2015 07:27AM
● By Ron Bevan
Forward Daniel Tree is leading Alta’s soccer team in scoring this season. The senior has tallied five goals in as many games.
It was supposed to be an off year for the Alta boys soccer team. They lost every starter from last year’s squad, bringing only one midfielder back with experience.
But nobody told this year’s senior class they couldn’t play with the big boys, as Alta has jumped out to a 5-0 record in the first three weeks of play.
“We have quite a few seniors on this year’s team that have come up through the program, and they know what they want to do,” Alta coach Lee Mitchell said. “They have been waiting for their chance and this is their year. They have the right attitude and are working hard. They are playing for each other.”
Alta has scored 13 goals in its first five games. But, more impressive is the lack of goals against them. After giving up one goal in the season opener with Pine View, the Hawks have stifled all other opponents’ scoring opportunities. The shutouts have enabled Alta to keep its winning streak alive, as three of the five games have been 1-0 affairs.
The Hawks took second behind Bingham in Region 2 action last season and made it to the quarterfinals before losing out to eventual state champion Riverton. The only returning starter from that squad is senior Christian Bain, a speedy midfielder known for setting up scoring attacks.
“Bain is a very intelligent soccer player,” Mitchell said. “He reads the game very well and attacks the ball.”
Bain has scored two goals already this season, but is just as important in his role in setting up attackers Daniel Tree and Mitch Fisher. Tree, a senior, is new to the starting lineup but leads Alta in scoring with five goals.
“Daniel is working hard for us on the top end of the field,” Mitchell said.
Although Fisher, a junior, is not a starter, he is hungry when he gets in the game and has become the second leading scorer with four goals.
Mitchell is especially proud of the way the defense has stepped up this season. Alex Johnson has recorded four shutouts already as this year’s goalkeeper. In front of him are senior defenders Michael Deleuwe and Harris Sabic, along with juniors Spencer Rasmussen and Preston McIllece.
“Johnson is making some very good saves and is a huge reason why we have only one goal scored on us,” Mitchell said. “Sabic is a big surprise for us. He came in ready for this season. All five of our defensive players are solid.”
Part of Alta’s success comes from having players, like Fisher, who come in to give a rest to the starters. Sophomore Alec Groathouse relieves on defense, while sophomore Nick Lowrimore takes turns in the midfield.
“You’ve got to have depth, and we have some good depth this season,” Mitchell said.
Although Alta has come out of the gates strong, Mitchell isn’t ready to call this season a success as of yet. Region play begins March 26 and includes some of Utah’s biggest soccer powerhouses. A total of 16 state championships have been won by Region 2 members Alta (5 titles), Brighton (6), Jordan (4) and Bingham (1).
“There is never an off day in this region,” Mitchell said. “When you have Brighton, Bingham, Jordan and Copper Hills in the same district, you have your hands full.”