On Wednesday, the 3A Girls Soccer Championships will converge on Cedar City with Cedar High and Canyon View both hosting first round playoff matches.
The Lady Reds enter the tournament looking to claim their second straight championship, while the Falcons will be looking to prove themselves to the rest of the classification in their first trip to the tournament in half a decade.
Cedar Lady Reds
Things are a bit different this year for Cedar.
No longer are the Lady Reds a dangerous and capable fourth seed, but are one of the clear favorites. The defending 3A state champions have a clear bullseye on their backs. Cedar’s first test will be against Juab, on Wednesday.
“Now there’s the little extra pressure on them, ‘Hey you guys won it last year, so you should win it this year,’ Cedar coach Scott Kamachi said.
The Lady Reds are more than capable of making another title run. They finished second in the ultra-competitive Region 9 and that alone should help prepare them for another run to Rio Tinto Stadium.
“Just having that constant pressure all the time, it really lets you know, you can’t take a night off,” Kamachi said. “You can’t relax and you can’t overlook anybody because every game is important.”
But there are some things that are cause for concern. After opening region play with four straight wins, Cedar dropped three of its last six matches. In those three losses Kamachi didn’t feel his team took advantage of opportunities, giving up the ball too easily and, more importantly, not knocking the ball into the back of the net.
“We felt like all of our losses, we feel like we kind of beat ourselves in those situations,” Kamachi said. “The teams that we played deserved to win and I’m not taking that away from them, but we felt like we should have done better.”
In short, the Lady Reds are confident they can be hoisting a trophy again, if they can get out of their own way.
Canyon View Falcons
The Falcons will be in uncharted territory on Wednesday, when they open the playoffs against Pine View. This will be the first playoffs for every player on the Canyon View squad.
But not all things will feel new.
The Falcons and Panthers shared regions up until this season, and even squared off earlier this year in a preseason match (Pine View won, 2-1).
“I’m always excited for (Pine View coach) Sam (Johnston) to come up,” Comstock said. “Me and Sam have been good friends for many many years. he is a terrific coach and I respect him and admire him, and think it’s going to just be one heckuva good game.”
The preseason match against the Panthers was part of a difficult non-region slate for Canyon View, where the Falcons struggled to a 1-6-1 record. But they ultimately found something that helped it fly through Region 12 with a perfect, 8-0, record.
To help a struggling defense, the Falcons moved Bethanie Alger, one of their best athletes, to the backline, and ever since then every opponent has struggled to score against Canyon View. In their eight region games, the Falcons gave up just one goal. But the stellar defense started even before that.
“Even against Pine View, both of their scores were on set pieces,” Canyon View head coach Mark Comstock said. “One was a corner and one was a free kick — so they didn’t score on our defense, either.”
Before the season, Canyon View set goals of winning a region title and making the playoffs. Done and done. Now it’s time to see if the Falcons can make any more noise this year.
Follow Ryan Miller on Twitter, @millerjryan.