Hunter soccer qualifies for state playoffs
May 18, 2018 10:55AM
● By Greg James
Hunter senior captain Junior Gonzalez prepares to send a corner kick in towards the Hillcrest goalkeeper. (Greg James/City Journals)
By Greg James | [email protected]
Hunter High School soccer has ridden a roller coaster of highs and lows this season.
“Soccer is a cruel game. We look very dangerous at times and have had lots of offensive opportunities we just could not put away,” Hunter head coach Brett Solberg said. “We have great talent on this team. We have had a rough patch, but hopefully we can find our rhythm and pull out some victories.”
Late season losses and a tough red card to one of the team leaders made the end of the regular season difficult.
“We end with games against three tough teams (Hillcrest, Granger and Cyprus). We should finish in the top of our region, our goal is to host a state tournament game,” Solberg said.
The Wolverines hosted Hillcrest in its final home game of the season May 1. Solberg said this was a must- win game. The Wolverines played like it too.
The first half ended scoreless, but as the second half began the Wolverines began to play with a reckless abandon. Hillcrest was not able to secure possession because of the Wolverines midfield defense. Several close offensive attacks led to many offensive chances.
Senior William Estrada struck a breakaway goal to break the tie.
“It is amazing to score a goal on senior night, it is such a team effort. We all worked so hard for that goal. We have done our best. We have put forth a good effort. We need to work hard and learn from our mistakes,” Estrada said.
The Wolverines continued to attack the Hillcrest defense aggressively. In the final minutes on a clear path breakaway Junior Gonzalez was tagged with a red card.
“We continued to be aggressive even with a man down. They were able to take advantage of us and still chipped a last-minute goal in,” Solberg said.
Hillcrest then scored three minutes into overtime for the victory.
“We really need to bounce back, put this loss behind us. There are times when I think our defense is the strongest and then times when our offense is playing well. I am not sure what I would call our strength,” Solberg said.
Gonzalez leads the team with seven goals; Chris Loza has had five.
“We have good players in all positions. Junior (Gonzalez) is a very intense player. He gets very into the game. His intensity costs him sometimes, but it also shows that he is out there playing hard every game,” Solberg said. “Willie (Estrada) is great at distribution and his ball control is incredible. Eddie (Lopez) has great vision and has a killer shot. Miguel (Alonso) is one of our better defenders.”
The team has emphasized being good in the classroom too.
“We have really tried to be diligent in the classroom by checking their grades more often. It is tough but we hope being good in class will spill over into discipline players on the pitch,” Solberg said.
They closed out the season with three straight losses. Amongst those losses the team volunteered at Hillside Elementary where they tutored the students and helped with a soccer skills clinic.
“This team is full of great kids,” Solberg said.
The Wolverines qualified for the 6A state tournament as the No. 3 seed from Region 2. Where they were scheduled to face Copper Hills on May 15 (after press deadline). The state championship match will be held May 24 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy.