Juan Diego girls soccer team back on fieldSep 16, 2020 01:57PM ● By Catherine Garrett
Juan Diego’s Savanna Greer (#10) leads the defense against Judge in the team’s 3-1 loss Aug. 13. (Photo courtesy Alysia Love)
By Catherine Garrett | [email protected]
Young talent is expected to help the Juan Diego Catholic High School girls soccer team this season with two freshmen and a sophomore already having scored in the squad’s first few games.
“It’s so refreshing to have an infusion of talented players who have competed at a high level,” head coach Joe Baca said. “They come in so developed and strong that they’ll take playing time from some of our older girls.”
Baca and co-coach Joe Alamilla have emphasized conditioning throughout the summer along with technical aspects of the game including passing, dribbling and shooting. “As we assemble our lineups, we are continually looking for who has the best touches, the mental edge and versatility to allow us to take them from more natural positions and put them where this team needs them,” Baca said.
So far this season, Juan Diego defeated Cyprus 7-0 Aug. 3. Junior Madison Burnham recorded a hat trick while the other four goals for the Soaring Eagle came from senior captain Sammee Herrera, junior Kira Rhay, freshman Kate DiGiandomenico and freshman Maia Rhay. The Rhay sisters also combined for five assists in the win.
Juan Diego lost to Weber 4-0 Aug. 6 and Cedar City Aug. 7 4-0 before defeating Hillcrest 2-1 Aug. 11. Against the Huskies, the squad turned a 1-1 game at halftime into a win behind goals from sophomore Hailey Mezenen and Kira Rhay. On Aug. 13, they were again knotted up at half one-all before giving up two second-half goals in a 3-1 loss to Judge Memorial. Kira Rhay scored the team’s lone goal.
In its first Region 10 matchup, the Soaring Eagle squad defeated Uintah 3-0 Aug. 19 with Mezenen, Burnham and Herrera each scoring a goal. Against Cedar Valley Aug. 24, they lost 3-0.
“I think our season so far has gone decent,” said senior captain Ellie Simkins, who has been nursing a sprained ankle. “It’s been tough to watch us lose some games that we could have won with a little more connection. But, we have been doing some social distancing team bonding events and that is helping us play more unified on the field.”
Freshman Jada Mirabile agreed. “We’ve been working hard to build chemistry, and I think it shows more and more every game,” she said. “We want to be the best teammates, sportswomen, and players we can, not just for ourselves but for each other.”
Region play continues with home-and-away matchups scheduled through early October against Ogden, Tooele, Ben Lomond, Stansbury. Uintah and Cedar Valley as Juan Diego aims to get past the first round of the state tournament, a feat they haven’t accomplished since its 2016 state championship.
The COVID-19 situation has certainly changed things for the Soaring Eagle team and Simkins has found herself leading in a challenging time. “This has challenged me to push the team a little more to carefully follow protocols so we can have a year,” she said.
The JDCHS tradition of gathering for a prayer and cheer after each practice and game with their arms around each other looks a little different right now as the teammates stand together, but 6 feet apart. They have also decided to not come together to hug each other following goals scored in the games. “We do what we call, ‘Bring it around town’ where we just dance by ourselves in a ‘no-contact’ celebration,” Simkins said. “We’re just trying to do everything we can to protect our own families who have some high-risk members.”
Baca commended Juan Diego’s athletic administration, including Chris Long and Sam Salts, for the measures they have taken to manage UHSAA’s guidelines amidst the current pandemic. “The school’s done an amazing job and are great examples of taking precautions at every turn,” Baca said. “Our games have been so protocol and our other sport’s coaches are really helpful in sharing the field for practices as we all navigate this uncertain time.”
Also on the JDCHS team are senior captain Isabelle Alamilla; seniors Savanna Greer and Maddie Orges; juniors Lilly Carlson, Janessa Young-Flores, Sonya Gulgulian, Olivia Harbison, Hanna Jessen, Mwende Kavila, Natalie Lamb, Cami Mates, Olivia Meredith, Hannah Munding, Chaya Roberts and Jonna Tucker; sophomores Lily Edwards, Thaia Tsandes and Drea Mudrock; and freshmen Abbie Alamilla, Maddie Chiazzese, Hailey Cutler, Kennedy Jones, Peyten Montoya and Morgan Mulcahy.
Baca and Alamilla are being assisted by Brian Rhay and Whitney Shuman on the coaching staff this season.
“We’re working hard and playing as respectfully as Juan Diego should and we know how,” Simkins said. “We have an environment of love and respect that has been created where we can push each other toward our goals which is to win state. We’re going for gold.”