Grizzlies find some magic in state playoffsJun 07, 2021 01:11PM ● By Greg James
At Copper Hills, the soccer team began to get better as the season progressed by capitalizing on the chances they created. (Photo courtesy of Copper Hills Soccer)
By Greg James | [email protected]
Even with a new coaching staff and a team that had hardly played together the boys soccer team at Copper Hills still managed to pull off a first-round state tournament victory.
“It was a little rough on us,” first-year Grizzly head coach Sean Terry said. “We started out strong and had some chances. Like most of this season, we have been creating good chances we just need to finish.”
The Grizzlies hosted Kearns in the first-round of the state playoffs, May 14. Kearns capitalized on an error and penalty to score the first two goals of the game, but the home team fought back and came away with a 3-2 victory.
Senior Issac Rollins scored the game-winning goal but sophomore Ben Kump had a redirect header that tied the game and swung momentum in the Grizzlies’ favor.
“We had to work our way out of a hole, but they did not stop and fought hard,” Terry said. “I was really happy tonight with Ben Kump. He is a sophomore that is coming on. We have been waiting for him and all his hard work is finally starting to click.”
On defense, the Grizzlies deploy a formation with three defenders, not very common in high school soccer. This helps them lock down the attack of their opponents and create opportunities offensively.
“Danniel De La Cruz is the rock in the middle. He reads the game very well. He steps to balls and is very fast. He makes smart decisions and having him back there with Brady (Birrell) is incredible. Brady is the motor and Daniel sets the tone,” Terry said of his defenders.
In goal senior Tim Arauzo had five shutouts, even though he was not even going to try out before the season began.
“He (Arauzo) didn't even come out until a week before tryouts. We did not even know him until then, he is amazing. He makes great stops. I think you would be hard-pressed to find a kid that has as quick of reactions. He has kept us in games,” Terry said.
Scoring goals was a widespread chore for the team this season. Four players had multiple goals, Terry pointed out that was a strength of the team.
“We didn't have one kid leading the charge,” he said.
Junior Enoc Figueroa was injured for the team's first-round match. Terry called him the go-to guy on offense. He scored five goals this season as did Rollins. Trevor Johnson and Maz Gutierrez also netted several goals.
Their first-round victory advanced them into this season's third match-up against Bingham.
“It will be a fun game, hopefully, the third time's the charm. We know what we need to do. I feel like we played two different games this season. We just couldn't put them away. We lost to them in penalties, for the players there was no reason that either of us left the game without a win. It is taken away in penalty kicks,” Terry said prior to the second-round matchup.
The Grizzlies would go to penalties for the third time this season against the Miners. Having won the first encounter before dropping the return leg at home, Copper Hills would lose 5-4 in a shootout to Bingham.
Terry has coached for five seasons as an assistant and keeper trainer at Copper Hills. He took over this season as the head man.
“I am proud of these kids. It is a new staff with a brand-new system. With Covid-19 last year the core of this team had never played together. They found a way to adapt to this new system. We have had ups and downs and they have not quit one time this season,” Terry said.