Bengals Break In Their New Field With a Pre-season WinSep 10, 2015 05:54PM ● By Bryan Scott
By Sarah Almond
August 11, 2015 was a big day for the Brighton High School girls soccer team: they played on their brand new field and won their first pre-season game against Ridgecrest 2-0.
“This is a happy day for the community, a happy day for the players, and a happy day for the city of Cottonwood Heights,” Bob Dowdle, deputy and assistant superintendent of Canyons School District, said.
The school broke ground on the $750,000 project a year and a half ago, after the Board of Education unanimously voted to make the preserved open space near Butler Middle School a soccer field exclusively for Brighton High School. July 1, 2015 marked the field’s completion.
“It was really important to us to have more green space and we are happy to have this facility for the school,” Nancy Tingey, 2nd vice president on The Board of Education, said.
The gated field, which was formerly a parking lot, will be used solely by the Brighton High School boys soccer and girls soccer teams, and will not be used for rec-league games or practices.
“We wanted to create a place that was just for our school,” Boardmember Amber Shill said. “All the schools we play have their own field, and we wanted our student athletes to have the same.”
“We’re fortunate to have a very active community that is really valuable to our schools and our district,” Charisse Hilton, principal of Brighton High School, said. “This field has been a long time in the making and we are beyond happy to have this facility.”
The girls soccer team couldn’t agree more. With Aug. 11 being the group’s first time playing on the field, the energy and excitement was undeniable.
“This field is awesome,” senior captain Rachel Powley said.
Powley, who was named 5A 1st Team All-State last year, has had a rough start to the 2015 season.
“I shifted my kneecap out of place during tryouts,” Powley said, “but I’ll be fine once the official season starts.”
After tryouts concluded on Monday, Aug. 3, just 54 girls were named players on the 2015 Bengals team. In years past, the team has only taken 36 girls from tryouts, but due to changes in the Utah High School Activities Association bylaws, the Bengals welcomed 18 more girls to comprise their JV, varsity and junior teams.
“We have really, really strong depth this season,” said senior captain Megan Turner. “Our underclassmen work so hard and that pushes us to work harder as upperclassmen.”
The girls spend two hours a day, five days a week conditioning, shooting, running drills and focusing on passing. However, with the team now being split into three sub-teams, the girls’ biggest challenge is learning how to play with a physically divided team.
“We have to be very competitive within our team, and that can be challenging,” senior Janessa Garcia said.
Though the team may be split on the field, their team chemistry is not lacking. Between team challenges, dinners, sleepovers and practices, the girls spend hours bonding both on and off the field.
“Our group gets along really well,” said senior Felicia Caten. “We work hard and we compete even harder.”
Though they play hard with the goal of making it to the state championships in October, they also play hard for the community.
“This community is outstanding,” Garcia said, “and (coach) Mark always encourages us to give back to the community.”
As part of their initiative to contribute and give back, the players are involved in several service projects throughout the year. The team recently traveled to Midvale to spend a day with students at Jordan Valley School, a school for students with severe disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury and more.
“We had such a fun time just hanging out, playing and doing activities with the kids,” said Powley, who was clad in a T-shirt covered in autographs of the JVS students.
“Mark has this saying,” Turner said. “‘When you’re on the BHS team you represent much more than just yourself: you represent your family, your school and your community.’”
Head Coach Mark Stoker is leading the Brighton Bengals for the fourth year in a row. Though many of the girls played under him at Utah Valley University Soccer Camp in June 2015, all of the players agree that having a coaching staff of Brighton High School alumni encourages camaraderie and school spirit.
Coach Stoker and assistant coach Brett Rosen both played soccer at Brighton High School.
The Brighton Bengals play their first conference game against rival Bingham Miners on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015 at 3:30 p.m. The game will be held on the new field at the Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center, just east of Butler Middle School.