Tuesday , March 13, 2018 - 9:45 PM
LAYTON — For many at Layton High, last year’s thrilling soccer state championship victory over Herriman on penalty kicks is still fresh in their minds.
But as is customary with the cycle of high school sports, 2018 is a new season.
Being a defending state and region champion doesn’t make anything easier at all this year for Layton — rather, it attracts everyone else’s best efforts.
So what’s in store for the defending champs this year?
“We’re returning four varsity starters, so we’re working with a lot of new talent. Getting them to mesh and work with each other will be the challenge this year,” head coach Rick Talamantez said after Layton’s 2-1 loss Tuesday to Skyline.
Thanks to the most recent alignment, Region 1’s best efforts are going to come often.
Davis has started well this season, Weber is the defending Region 1 champion (Layton won Region 2 last year), Fremont has posted 13 or more wins the past two seasons and Clearfield is averaging three goals per game to start the year.
“I just tell these guys you’ve got to be technically strong and with the technique, you’ve got to work as hard as you can and good things will happen,” Talamantez said. “They’ll gel, they’ll come together because the young ones that came up, they’re talented.”
Layton’s other adjustments have to do with its home field. The Lancers are playing on the football field this year while their grass field is getting new sod — which is longer, wider and an artificial surface.
That means they have a lot more space to fill and their 4-3-3 formation will be stretched wider, but one of those front three is returning starting winger Leo Urrutia, one of the more talented and skilled players the Lancers have.
“We’ve got a pretty good team, it’s preseason though. Little mistakes, little things come every now and then, we’ve got to learn to fix those things,” Urrutia said.
Layton still has the look of a region title contender, something that showed more Saturday in its 3-0 win at Ogden, a Tigers team that played perennial power Alta to a 0-0 draw in the season opener.
Granted it’s non-region play and, since the games don’t matter at the end of the year, coaches aren’t likely showing their full hands and may not have starting 11s set.
The fun thing about soccer season — or not so fun, if you’re a coach — is teams hardly get any time from the start of the season until region play starts.
The region should be fiercely competitive, having the uncommon schedule that includes the defending region champion Lancers as well as last year’s Region 1 champion Weber.
Weber returns its top three goalscorers from last year: seniors Max Price (14 goals, 10 assists), Eric Morris (10 goals, 11 assists) and junior Austin Allen (five goals, six assists).
Davis is off to a commanding 3-0 start after sending six goals past Green Canyon on Tuesday to go with wins over Murray and Viewmont. Matthew Ferre has five goals through the first three games as the Darts are being talked about as one of the teams that could hoist the Region 1 trophy later this season.
Fremont’s first two games make up a frustrating start to the year, a 0-0 draw against Pleasant Grove and a 3-2 loss to Box Elder. But the Silver Wolves have been one of the stronger area teams the past two seasons and will likely contend for a playoff spot, too.
Syracuse returns leading scorer Augustin Torena and the Titans are coming off a close loss to Weber in the playoffs last year.
Northridge and Clearfield both missed the playoffs last year, but so far the Falcons have found the back of the net nine times the first three games. Region games start Tuesday, March 20.
There’s a lot to be learned in Region 5, since most of the schools, apart from Woods Cross and Bountiful, are unfamiliar with each other, a product of realignment.
So far, we’ve learned: Roy’s off to a flying start at 4-0, outscoring foes 15-4 and three of those goals allowed came from Clearfield in the season opener.
Gunner Erickson and Cody Moore both lead the team with three apiece and 10 Royals have appeared on the scoresheet so far.
Box Elder also has plenty to be optimistic about with a 3-0 record that includes a 3-2 win over Fremont, a 5-0 win over Timpanogos in which five players scored, and Tuesday’s 2-1 win at Syracuse.
Bountiful has struggled through its first three games: a 3-3 draw at Bonneville, a 1-1 draw at Kearns and a 3-1 home loss to Mountain Crest.
Viewmont has matched up well against higher-classification schools, losing to Davis before beating Syracuse and Lone Peak in consecutive days this week.
Woods Cross has a 1-0 win over defending 3A champion Ridgeline and a 1-1 draw at American Fork, a 5A quarterfinalist a year ago, to its credit so far, to go with a 5-0 win against Bear River.
Since the five schools play an eight-game region schedule, there’s still plenty of time for them to scout each other out and hit their stride before the games start to matter. Region games don’t start until April 10.
Ogden and Juan Diego appear to be the upper echelon of the region, and those two will square off Friday, March 23, in Ogden and then again on April 18 in Draper.
Until then, the Tigers have two region games starting Wednesday at home against Tooele, then March 21 at Bonneville.
The Lakers and Park City are the next two schools that could make a case for a home playoff game. Bonneville is young overall, but strong up the middle with experienced center forwards Joe Cloward and Jayden Marriott, a senior center midfielder Mathis Burton, and central defender Dallin Degroot.
Ben Lomond opens region play at Juan Diego on Wednesday with a 1-1-1 overall record including a win over Bear River, a draw against Clearfield and a loss to Roy. With a good showing, the Scots could get some fuel in the tank to help them push for a playoff spot.
The Tigers appear to have reloaded this year and, while they’ve lost 3-0 to Granger and Layton, they do have a 0-0 draw against perennial power Alta in their back pocket.
Ogden’s been one of the more talented teams in the area the past few years, but a state trophy has been elusive despite some fantastic regular-season records in 2012 and 2015-16. Region games start Wednesday, March 14.
REGIONS 12, 13 & 16
Bear River’s endured a rough, 0-3 start to the year and was outscored 11-3 in those games.
Morgan is 3-1 with its lone loss coming against Logan. In the other three games, the Trojans have won 2-0, 7-0 and 8-0.
Layton Christian has romped to a 4-0 start with wins over 4A schools Hurricane and Pine View.
St. Joseph is 1-1 with a 3-1 win over APA Draper under its belt.
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