Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

March 30, 2022
THS soccer wins three straight matches

Tooele boys soccer team is on a three-game winning streak and holds a  2-0 record in Region 7 action heading into a third region game on Wednesday, March 30 at Payson.

After losing four games to open the season, the Buffs seem to have found their stride with a goal to win the region championship.

“I would say some of the biggest factors in these three recent wins were the previous three pre-season games we played against some very strong opposition,” said head coach Stephen Duggan. 

“We intentionally set a hard schedule to find out what we needed to tweak and fix, and to give the boys the experience of playing at a high tempo against such opposition. In doing so, they learned from their mistakes, improved individually and collectively, and gained valuable experience and self-belief,” the coach said.

Tooele began the streak with a 4-1 non-league home victory over Bear River on Monday, March 21, and opened region play two days later with a 3-1 trouncing of Cedar Valley.

It was a strong second half for the Buffaloes against Bear River on Monday, and a strong first half against Cedar Valley on Wednesday.

The Buffs beat the Bears thanks to three second-half goals after the game was tied 1-1 at intermission.

On Wednesday, Tooele scored three goals in the first 20 minutes of the match and held on for the win.

Senior forward Jozef Runge registered a hat trick in Monday’s game against the Bears and Trevor Hogan added a goal. Credited with assists were Hogan, Porter Peck, James Brenchley and Keaton Bozart.

Casen Walker got it started under four minutes against Cedar Valley when he scored from a feed from a corner kick.

Runge scored 14 minutes into the game on a penalty kick after the CVHS keeper committed a foul to make it 2-0 Buffaloes. 

Hogan then connected for a goal on a well placed strike from several yards out from the left side of the field to make it 3-0 at about the 17-minute mark

Runge was credited with two assists and Sawyer Ward assisted on one of the goals.

The Buffaloes handed the Uintah Utes their first loss of the season. Uintah led 1-0 at halftime, but Tooele scored twice in the second half to win the match 2-1.

Isaiah Blake assisted on both goals with passes for scores to Runge. Runge has scored six goals this season, but the coach emphasized that it’s all about the team working together.

“Yes, Jozef has hit the ground running and is improving with each game, it’s great to see and he deserves the accolades he’s getting right now. However, this is a team sport, not an individual one; without his teammates, Jozef wouldn’t be doing as well as he is,” Duggan said.

“Indeed, alongside Jozef, we have many, many fine soccer players. Thankfully we are blessed with coverage and strength in every position on the field, from goalkeepers to defenders, and into midfield and up top.”

The coach has been associated with THS soccer for several years now, and believes this squad has superb potential.

“Honestly, this squad has some of the best talent and ability that has ever come through THS. Now, all they’ve got to do is live up to their potential. If the current development and improvement curve continues, they won’t just match their true potential; they’ll far exceed it. How far they take this is up to them, it’s going to be a fun ride watching them not only break glass ceilings; but smash and disintegrate them,” the coach said.

Tooele features several underclassmen on the team and seven of the starting 11 in the past three games were underclassmen.

“There’s an old adage that goes, ‘If they’re good enough, they’re old enough.’ We are the epitome of this saying this season, age is not a factor. Truly, we are more than good enough to challenge for a region title this year, and we intend to give it a real go. There’s still a lot of games to play and we won’t get ahead of ourselves. However, when prizes are handed out in the region this year, we fully intend to be in the mix for those prizes,” Duggan said.

“It’s an old cliche, but all we’ve got to do is keep believing in the process, keep working hard, and everything else will fall into place. We know that we can beat any team in our region this year, we also believe that we are the team to beat. We fear no one. Indeed, it’s our rivals who should fear us,” the coach said.

Players score goals and defend and win games, and the head coach is at the top of the organization, but the “team” at THS is made up of so much more.

Duggan relies on his fellow coaches  David McKechnie, Chris Rhea and Chris Wilcox.

“I couldn’t ask for a better coaching staff to work with,” Duggan said.

He cited the work of team managers, Zaytey, Bailey, Sydnee and Cecily.

“We also have our equally amazing admins, led by our AD, Catham Beer, our Principal, Mr. Jarnagin, and our Vice Principals, Mr. McCluskey, Mr. Rose and Mrs.Staten. We also have an exceptional Athletic Trainer in David Giles, a fantastic custodial staff led by Heath Hillyard, and great support from our faculty, and fellow coaches in our athletic program,” the coach said.

“However, maybe the greatest members of the team are our parents. They not only get the players to where they need to be at all times, and work around a crazy high school schedule, they travel far and wide to support us too. Aside from the support, they provide us with team dinners, food at away games, and even access to video footage to analyze our games. Without them, none of this success would be possible. I’d also like to give a huge shoutout to our honorary team member this year, and our team mascot as well; Connor McInnes. The future is bright, the future is purple,” Duggan said.

Tooele hosts Cottonwood on Friday, April and travels to Stansbury on Thursday, April 7.

 

Mark Watson

Sports Editor at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Mark directs all editorial coverage of sports in addition to reporting on a wide range of events from high school football to international racing. He has a wealth of journalism experience, having worked for four other newspapers in the state. Mark grew up in Tooele County and graduated from Grantsville High School and Brigham Young University.

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