The Stansbury boys soccer team has had a lot of success in recent years, but is eager to take the next step to be considered among the top programs in Class 3A.
Stallions coach Jacob Jones believes they have the potential to do just that.
“If they come together, much like last year, I think they have a shot to challenge all the teams at state,” Jones said after his team’s 2-0 win over Hurricane on Monday — the Stallions’ first of the season after starting 0-1-2. “Obviously, the ball’s got to roll your way in the end, and you’ve got to take responsibility and control of everything you can, but I don’t see that there is a ceiling right now.”
Stansbury lost in heartbreaking fashion to Dixie in last season’s state tournament after leading the game into the final minutes. The Stallions are looking to avoid a similar fate in 2017, but they are still a work in progress.
“It’s hard –– we weren’t scoring any goals, but we weren’t letting very much in [during the first three games],” said junior striker Kade Littlefield, who scored both of his team’s goals against Hurricane. “[Monday], we started making goals, so I think we know how to make them now.”
The Stallions, ranked No. 5 in the Class 3A preseason rankings by the Salt Lake City media, have seven seniors on this season’s roster, led by goalkeeper Chad Coleman. Last season, Stansbury allowed just 15 goals in 18 games with Coleman in goal, and he’s given up just three goals in four games this year –– including back-to-back shutouts against Logan and Hurricane.
“He’s been phenomenal so far,” Jones said. “You could put a highlight reel together with the first four games of the season. He’s really come on. His saves have been pretty impressive.”
Other seniors on this year’s roster include captains Zach Thomas and Ramon Horta, who patrol the Stallions’ midfield along with Josh Hatch; defenders Ko Saavedra and Joseph Zeller and defender/midfielder/striker Dylan Spencer.
Horta, who had the Stallions’ only goal through the first three games of the season, had two goals and two assists as a junior. Thomas had five goals and three assists last season, and Spencer had two assists. Hatch has one assist in his career, and Zeller and Saavedra are in their second seasons anchoring the Stallions’ back line.
“I’ve been asked the question a lot, ‘who’s your best player,’” Jones said. “Every one of them … I can’t miss any of them. We look for players to step up because every single one of those players is needed on the field.”
Other key returners from last year’s state quarterfinalists include Littlefield (eight goals, three assists) and sophomores Brandon Bustillos and Mitchell Holdstock, who each scored four goals last season.
The Stallions were still looking to build cohesion as the Region 10 season got under way Tuesday against rival Tooele in a game that was not complete at press time. Stansbury’s offense has struggled to get on the board, and their play in the midfield has been uneven at times.
“I think we can do really well if the middle can possess the ball and pass it through to the forwards,” Littlefield said. “I think we’ll be able to have a lot more shots and a lot more chances to score.”
Once they get things sorted out, Jones said Stansbury has a chance to do something special.
“I don’t see anything that says we can’t go all the way, but I have seen some stuff that could hamper us in even making it,” Jones said. “I don’t see a ceiling, necessarily. I see a lot of coaching that needs to be done and there’s a lot of mentality things that we need to focus on and get underneath our belt, but I think we can do quite a bit.”