The way the Grantsville girls soccer team’s season ended on Saturday didn’t seem fitting for a group that has accomplished so much in recent years.
Yet, when the clock hit triple-zeroes at Manti High School, the Cowboys’ run had, in fact, come to an end with a 7-0 loss to the top-seeded Templars. While Grantsville wasn’t at its best on Saturday, the score seemed more lopsided than the game actually was.
But Saturday’s disappointing end shouldn’t put a damper on the season the Cowboys just had. Really, the fact that Grantsville found itself in a quarterfinal game against a perennially strong Manti squad for the second time in the past four years is an accomplishment to be celebrated, and an indication of just how far the program has come in a short amount of time.
The Cowboys’ senior class came into the program in the 2017 season. In the previous 16 seasons leading into that campaign, Grantsville had posted a record of 26 wins, 193 losses and three draws. That’s a points percentage of .122 over 222 matches, though the Cowboys were coming off a then-program-best 6-8 record the previous season. They’d endured seven winless seasons between 2001 and 2013.
This group of seniors changed all that. When they were freshmen, the Cowboys finished with their first-ever winning record at 10-5-1 and won a playoff game for the first time in program history before falling to Manti in the quarterfinals. The next year, Grantsville went 9-6 and lost to Juab in the first round. In 2019, GHS set a new school record with 11 wins against just six losses, but was upset by Emery in the second round of the postseason. This year, the Cowboys were 10-7.
That’s 40-24-1 over four years, good for a .621 points percentage. Nearly 61% of the program’s wins over the past 20 seasons have come since 2017. Before the Class of 2021 came along, no group of Grantsville seniors had graduated with more than 11 wins — a mark shared by the graduating classes of 2017 and 2007.
And the statistics? Well, those speak for themselves. Between 2001 and 2016, the Cowboys were outscored 145-1,529, averaging 0.65 goals per game and allowing 6.89. Four times, they went an entire season without scoring a single goal, and they had six additional seasons where they scored fewer than 10. They set a school record with 44 goals in 2016, which also marked the first time the Cowboys had a positive goal differential (they were plus-one, when their previous best was minus-42).
Over the past four years, Grantsville has outscored its opponents 316-159, averaging 4.86 goals per game while allowing 2.45. This year, they scored 91 times, finishing with a goal differential of plus-45 — second in program history to the 2017 squad, which finished plus-51 (87-36).
Of course, it helps when you have the all-time leading goal-scorer in state history on your side. Whitney Wangsgard finished her career with 198 goals and assisted on 42 more. Still, that means that the team around her scored 118 times over the past four years. Her fellow seniors — Dylann Holmes, Megan Taylor, Alyssa Roberts, Myranda Arave, Faith Goodsell and Mykaylla Darrow — combined for 19 goals and 28 assists in their careers. That’s two more goals than Grantsville scored as a team between 2006 and 2011, in 19 fewer games.
There’s no doubt that this senior class will be a tough act to follow. Wangsgard and Roberts, in particular, have been foundational players over the past four years, with both serving as captains in each of the past two seasons. But the seniors have lifted Grantsville’s profile immensely. The Cowboys are losing key pieces, but the cupboard is far from bare, with plenty of young talent in the pipeline.
But the seniors ought to take a lot of pride in what they’ve helped to build. It sure has been a lot of fun to watch over the past four years.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. He was there for the Grantsville seniors’ first varsity game against Cyprus in 2017, and for their last game against Manti on Saturday. Email him at email@example.com.