Young Team Takes on First Foray into 4A for Alta Soccer
Oct 07, 2015 01:03PM
By Bryan Scott
Senior midfielder Breanna DeWaal is the “glue that holds our team together,” according to Alta coach Lee Mitchell.
By Ron Bevan
For the first time in years, Utah’s big schools don’t have to play second fiddle to Alta.
Watch out 4A schools.
The Hawks are playing their first season in the smaller 4A category, after student enrollment dwindled with the opening of Corner Canyon two years ago. Previously, the Hawks had been consistently one of the top 5A soccer programs in the state, reaching the state tournament every year and walking away with the state championship a record eight times.
Now the Hawks are in the smaller division, but the game hasn’t changed much for them.
“There are a lot of good teams in the 4A ranks,” Alta coach Lee Mitchell said. “Nothing has changed for us moving down to 4A but the faces and uniforms. The other teams are still quality soccer programs.”
Add to that the youth of this year’s squad, and one would think it might be a struggle this season for Alta. The Hawks have just four seniors on this year’s squad, and one of them is out for the season with an injury.
“This is by far the youngest team I have ever had,” Mitchell said. “We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores that make up this team, but we are doing okay. They understand how we play at Alta.”
The Hawks lost senior Amber Tripp for the season with a torn ACL in her knee.
“We might get her back in time for the tournament, but we shall see,” Mitchell said. “She hates not playing, but she has been a positive influence on the team, helping the other girls at practice and encouraging them at games.”
Alta lost another important player to injury this season: junior Sadie Mertlich is also out with the same injury. Mertlich was Alta’s leading scorer last season.
Leading the team this season is a trio of seniors who have put the team on their shoulders. Isabel Jones captains the defense, while Megan Walker and Brianna DeWaal oversee the midfield and forward players.
Jones is in her second season as the Hawk’s starting goalkeeper.
“Jones is a great anchor for us on defense,” Mitchell said. “She provides the leadership we need in the back.”
Walker plays the wing for Alta and is one of the most physically in-shape athletes on the team.
“She is like the Energizer bunny,” Mitchell said. “She just goes and goes all out for the entire game.”
But it is DeWaal the team looks to for the most leadership. DeWaal is also a two-year starter in the center of the midfield.
“She is a great leader not by just talking to the other players, but she leads by example,” Mitchell said. “I don’t know anybody that works as hard as she does. She is the glue that holds this team together.”
Both DeWaal and Tripp have already accepted scholarships to play at UVU next year.
The surprise this season has come in the form of a feisty little fireball of a freshman named Brecken Mozingo. Although much shorter than most of her opponents, and weighing even less, Mozingo has taken charge of the scoring attack for Alta and has risen to the occasion.
“It is tough to put a freshman into that situation where she has to carry the scoring load of our team,” Mitchell said. “But she has accepted the role nicely. She is very quick and has a good sense of what to do with the ball.”
Alta began the season with a loss and draw, but has since rolled over all but one out-of-state opponent. With a 6-2-1 record, the Hawks are currently in first place in their region.