Skyline’s Success Fueled By Stellar Team ChemisTRY
Sep 29, 2016 04:16PM
● By Sarah Almond
By Sarah Almond | [email protected]
September marked the halfway point for Skyline High School’s girls soccer season. Despite a one-point loss to Utah’s top-ranked team, Bonneville, in the preseason, the Eagles have had a stellar, undefeated season against region teams.
“This season has been awesome,” Senior Captain Maddie Gill said. “We’ve really been able to learn and grow as a team and to have new younger players really step up. It’s been really successful.”
This is the first season Skyline has included a freshman team in the program, allowing them to take 15 new freshmen and building an extensive roster of 52 girls total.
Several returning players showed up for tryouts at the beginning of August, which Head Coach Yamil Castillo believes has helped to bring experience and talent to a notoriously winning team.
“Even though we lost a few good players last year, we have the talent to pick up where we left off,” Castillo said.
The Skyline girls are reigning state champions after beating Timpanogos High School 3-1 in the 2015 state tournament. As of Sept. 11, 2016, the Eagles were ranked fifth in the state behind Bonneville, Woods Cross, Alta and East — all teams that are not in Skyline’s 4A region.
Still, several early season wins indicate a good probability that the Eagles will keep their reign as champions at the 2016 state tournament in early October.
“Murray High School is the hardest competition we have,” Castillo said. “We beat them a few weeks ago, and they were the only loss that we had last year.”
The Eagles beat the Spartans 3-1 on Sept. 1. Both Castillo and Maddie believe this win was vital in improving the confidence of several less-experienced players, which ultimately boosted the team’s overall moral and encouraged each player to work even harder.
“Having to replace such a dynamic duo from last year has been a challenge,” Castillo said. “But we’ve had several players fill in. Cassidy Orr is only a sophomore, but she has been fantastic; she’s been our leading scorer.”
In addition to Orr, Castillo is noticing several other younger players stepping up to the challenge of filling the void left by last year’s graduated seniors.
“We have a lot of young players,” Castillo said. “But they are eager for an opportunity to prove themselves and prove that they can play.”
Castillo credits the dedication and determination of his younger players to the positive examples set by experienced upperclassmen.
“We have had tremendous leadership from our seniors this year,” Castillo said. “They are amazing leaders and amazing athletes.”
Maddie, for example, has played on the varsity team since she was a freshman. She says that she’s seen the younger players grow tremendously in confidence and skill since the beginning of the year.
“It’s been difficult filling the shoes of the forwards that left,” Gill said. “But as our forwards this year have played more through the season, I’ve seen them start to have that confidence and be ready to fill those shoes, which is comforting because that’s what they need to do and that’s what they are capable of doing.”
Despite the players’ differences in age, talent and experience, Maddie says that Skyline’s culture of working as a united team and working hard to improve as individuals will aid in the Eagles’ goal of claiming the state title yet again in 2016.
“Since I was a freshman at Skyline, we’ve had this saying-slash-acronym,” Maddie said. “It’s chemisTRY: the t-r-y in chemistry stands for ‘take responsibility for yourself.’ And I think by taking responsibility for our own actions, we are able to better connect as a team and rely on each other as teammates.”
The Eagles play their last region game at Olympus High School on Oct. 6. The game starts at 3:30 p.m. and the pitch is located on the south side of the school. State tournament playoffs begin on Oct. 11 at various home locations. Visit uhsaa.org for more information.