Seven years ago, Grantsville soccer star Whitney Wangsgard played her first game as a forward for club team TC United, shortly after her family moved to Grantsville from Draper.
The then-fourth grader scored four goals in that match, setting the tone for years of goal-scoring exploits to come. Now a junior and captain for Grantsville High’s girls soccer team, Wangsgard entered Thursday’s match against Judge Memorial just five goals away from equaling the Utah High School Activities Association’s all-time career goals record.
She scored five times in Thursday’s win over South Summit and three more times in Tuesday’s overtime victory against Summit Academy, and now trails only three players on the all-time list: Alta’s Kealia Oahu and Lehi’s Amber Strode each scored 127 goals over their four-year careers, and Mountain View’s Shauna Rohbock holds the all-time record with 131 goals from 1991-94.
Breaking Rohbock’s record is an accomplishment Wangsgard never thought possible when she began her high school career.
“Coming in as a freshman, I didn’t really expect anything special,” Wangsgard said. “I just wanted to help my team out as much as I could. I definitely didn’t think I would be close to the state record.”
Wangsgard made an immediate impression on Cowboys coach Travis Lowry from the first time he saw her in practice. That only increased after the first varsity game of her freshman season, when she scored four goals and assisted on another in an 8-0 win over Cyprus.
“It has been awesome in the truest sense of the word,” Lowry said. “From the minute I met her when she came and worked out with us the summer before her freshman year, I was like, ‘oh, this is different. This is different from what we see at Grantsville most of the time.’
“It’s really cool for the team, because the girls never feel out of it. When you have someone like that on your team, it gives everybody confidence.”
Wangsgard admitted to being scared to play in that first game, particularly with her older sister, Ashley, serving as a senior team captain. However, that season saw the sisters combine for 53 goals and 29 assists — 44 goals and 17 assists for Whitney — as the Cowboys went on a memorable run to the Class 3A quarterfinals.
“Ashley is super good at soccer, and everyone expected me to be just as good as her,” Wangsgard said. “I was super nervous for that, but I couldn’t have done anything my freshman season without her. She carried me throughout that whole season.”
The most memorable game of that season for Wangsgard — and, perhaps her career to date — came in a Sept. 26, 2017, match at home against Judge Memorial. Two weeks earlier, the Bulldogs routed the Cowboys 6-0, but Grantsville came into the rematch eager to prove they belonged among the top teams in their region. The result of the rematch was a 4-4, double-overtime tie, with Whitney scoring three goals and assisting on a goal by Ashley.
“We didn’t put on a good showing at all (the first game) of what Grantsville soccer is or could be,” Wangsgard said. “Coming in, we wanted to show them that yeah, we are competitors and we are here to play, and we showed them by tying them 4-4 that game.”
Since then, Wangsgard has continued to rewrite the record book. Her 44 goals during her freshman year rank fourth all-time for a single season. She scored the 100th goal of her career in the fourth game of her junior season, a 7-4 win over St. Joseph in which she scored five times. A week later, she tied the record for goals in a single game, scoring eight times in a win over North Summit — something only two other girls soccer players have done in the 31 seasons that the UHSAA has sanctioned the sport. She already has 41 goals this season through 10 games, with at least seven more remaining on the schedule.
However, she remains humble even in the face of all that success.
“I want to say thank you to all the coaches I’ve ever had and to my family,” Wangsgard said. “I really couldn’t have done anything without (my family). They’ve driven me to soccer forever, for as long as I can remember, and they’ve supported me. Those have been our family vacations — driving me to all my soccer tournaments around the country.”
Wangsgard is somewhat of a soccer junkie, playing competitively for the Rampage club in Ogden while also serving as a team manager for the Grantsville boys team in the spring.
“She works hard in practice,” Lowry said. “She’s a leader, but very quiet. She doesn’t like recognition. When she scores, you can see her almost shrink. She’s so humble, but she’s just a stud.”
Not only is she a star on the field for the Cowboys, Wangsgard is someone to look up to off the field as well with her success in the classroom and involvement in her school, Lowry added.
“She’s just a great kid,” Lowry said. “She’s got a 4.0 (grade-point average), she’s on the National Honor Society, she’s the junior class secretary — she’s all-American, and how do you not like a kid like that? She’s a soccer junkie, but everything else in her life, she focuses on too. We love her and we love having her, and it gives a lot of girls on our team confidence because she’s on our team. It’s great to have her.”