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The City Journals

Grizzlies Soccer Advances To Playoffs

Jun 14, 2016 09:33AM ● By Greg James

Copper Hills senior Junior Estrada scored nine goals for the Grizzlies this season. Photo courtesy of Greg James

By Greg James / [email protected]

The Copper Hills boys soccer team had its backs against the wall. Staring at a one goal deficit against a tough Region 3 opponent Taylorsville, they knew they must win to secure and improve on the teams state playoff position. The Grizzlies had to buckle down to get what they desire, a long and meaningful experience in the state playoffs.

Junior Aaron Nixon slammed his second goal into the back of the net after a Taylorsville deflection. The goal put the Grizzlies on top to stay, securing three points in the standings.  

“We went down 1-0 here against the Warriors, but not one of us thought we were going to lose. That is one of our team strengths. We are 100 percent committed to each other on and off the pitch,” senior forward Junior Estrada said after the 2-1 Grizzly victory.

Estrada has netted a team leading nine goals for the Grizzlies entering the season’s final week, ranking fourth in the state for goals scored.

“I feel great about our team. We are headed into the playoffs with a four game win streak. We have a lot of momentum and I think we could explode in the playoffs,” Estrada said.

The Grizzlies finished the season in second place with a 8-3-1 record. 

“We have really worked hard on our defense this season. We wanted to win the ball defensively and counter attack. Our success has come from playing compact defense and not leaving gaps for the other teams to exploit. Defensively we really wanted to be strong and not concede goals,” head coach Eddie Moura said.

The Grizzlies never allowed more than three goals in a contest this season. Their largest defeat came at home against Bingham 3-1 on April 8. 

“Connor (Mooney) has been a great keeper. He is very talented and waited for his opportunity. He plays a lot bigger than he really is. We can count on him in the back,” Moura said.

Senior Danny Vargas anchors the defensive back line. Vargas comes from a soccer family, His older brother Luis graduated in 2015 from Copper Hills and is currently playing soccer at San Jose State University.

“Danny (Vargas) has been a four year starter for us. I think he really matured this season. He has communicated well on the back line for us and taken responsibility for the team back there,” Moura said.

The Grizzlies lost last season in the first round of the state playoffs 4-3 to Taylorsville. They have qualified for the state playoffs eight straight seasons. Their overall record in the playoffs is 7-8 they advanced to the semi-finals in 2012 were they lost to Davis 1-0.

The 5A state soccer playoffs are scheduled to begin May 17. The Grizzlies will face Fremont. The finals are to be held May 26 (after press deadline.)

“I think we have as good a chance as any team out there. We can compete with any team. I am proud of our team’s resiliency. These kids never give up and stand behind each other. They just have that meatality,” Moura said. 

Senior Jayden Colotla was awarded with an Academic All-State award for his cumulative 4.0 grade point average.