The Grantsville girls soccer team exhibited offensive strength, scoring a goal in the first minute of play against South Summit Thursday and went on to score three more to blank the Wildcats 4-0 at home.
According to GHS coach Travis Lowry, the team’s defense has come together for GHS as the season has progressed. Region 13, he said, is the toughest in 3A.
“We weren’t quite ready for the physicality and speed. But, now we’ve adjusted,” he said.
He said, the team has been able to put together control-passing soccer, and have stepped up their physical game to the point that they are “starting to match up with the other teams.”
Though SSHS had first possession, Grantsville was able to steal away the ball and send it downfield where in the game’s first few minutes. It was sophomore Laura Sandberg who sent the ball to Whitney Wangsgard. Wangsgard saw the opportunity and sent the boot straight and hard to the back of the net.
South Summit struggled to get a rhythm going. As a result, GHS had two corner kicks following that first point, neither of which they were able to capitalize on.
But it wasn’t long after that first GHS goal that Layne Holmes crossed to Kylee Haycock. With two defenders on, Haycock stopped the ball and carefully aimed at the right corner, out of the goalies reach. Grantsville was up, 2-0.
Ashley Wangsgard received a foul as she and a Wildcat defender were fighting for the ball, and goalie Savannah Thomas was called to kick the resulting PK on goal. The kick was hard, but just barely outside the box’s right side.
The next highlight was a Wangsgard sister display, as the two teamed up for the third point. Senior Ashley Wangsgard fed the ball to her younger sister Whitney, a freshman, who capitalized with a well-placed punch into the net.
Ashley Wangsgard dropped two more attempts that came up short — one to the left corner, where they South Summit goalie dropped on it, and the other was above the net and left.
The referee next yellow-carded the South Summit coach for getting overheated.
The second half began with another Ashley Wangsgard attempt on goal, but the goalie was able to pull it in.
With the Wildcats’ next possession, a teammate had kicked a ball toward the net and SSHS forward Kailee Freeman pushed up, fighting to beat Thomas to the ball. But GHS won the battle and held tight on defense.
Grantsville’s Sarah Ellett next threatened on goal. However, she was too far back and hit right side of net. Grantsville was awarded a corner kick, but after the ball again flew out the back, GHS was given a second corner kick.
Ellett met the ball with a header, however the ball bounced high and right of the net.
The Wildcats’ Freeman again came close to a SSHS goal from the left corner, but Thomas raced out of the box to scoop it up.
The two teams exchanged penalty kicks. The first was for South Summit, as a result of a foul by Ashley Wangsgard. The SSHS kick on goal, was to the right side, but goalie Thomas pulled it in. The Wildcats’ Kayli Smart caused the defensive foul on Whitney Wangsgard.
Whitney Wangsgard’s kick was high and bounced off the goalie’s hand and out of the box.
The Cowgirls’ final goal came on a feed from Whitney Wangsgard to Ellett as part of a series of good dribbles and passes down the line. Ellet aimed well, angling her kick at the upper left corner and out of the goalie’s reach.
The game ended with South Summit unable to put together a scoring drive.
“Our defense was very solid against South Summit. They didn’t have much of a chance because the defense was solid,” Lowry said.
In all, Thomas reeled in eight attempted Wildcat points on goal on the afternoon and the GHS coaches named her their Maxpreps player of the game.
Of Thomas, Lowry said, “She’s one of our captains. She’s been our goalie and has evolved into a really great goalie. She has a good idea of where to place her body and is able to get some good angles. It’s been a good year for her.”
Lowry continued that she had a couple of miscues during the Judge Memorial game and the game ended up in a tie. Thomas took those miscues hard because she “knew she could do better,” he said.
From that experience, she turned it into a positive and made the adjustments, stepping up her intensity and focus. Lowry said both goals and mistakes are going to happen, but it is up to the player to overcome the adversity and turn those negatives into positives.
“She’s been great all season but we felt she had pushed her intensity up,” he added.
Today GHS meets Summit Academy at 3:30 p.m. on the SAHS field. A win there will put GHS in third place in Region 13.