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West Jordan Journal

High-scoring Copper Hills girls soccer team off to great start

Sep 11, 2023 02:17PM ● By Josh McFadden

Last season, the Copper Hills girls soccer team won five of their 18 games. A third of the way through this season, the Grizzlies already exceeded that win total.

Last season, the Copper Hills girls soccer team won five of their 18 games. A third of the way through this season, the Grizzlies already exceeded that win total. 

As of Aug. 21, the Grizzlies were 6-0, with most of those games being blowouts. The offense has been on fire, too. Copper Hills had at least three goals in each of its first six contests, had four goals in five of those games and scored at least five goals on four occasions during this stretch. 

A big reason for the improvements has been the addition of some talented newcomers and the rise of other younger players. First-year head coach Justin Hendrix is impressed with what he has seen so far. 

“I think our strength is that we play as a team,” he said. “There is no one player trying to score all of the goals, get all the glory. We have unselfish teammates who are just as excited to get an assist as they are to score a goal. I think in past years, we lacked that. It was maybe one or two players trying to do too much. This year, the girls trust one another and are united in a singular focus and objective.”

Freshman Camila Palafox, whom Hendrix called “a dynamic playmaker,” has been a welcome addition to the team. Through six games, she was tied for second on the team in goals with seven and second in assists with six. Returning All-Region forward Brenna Arauzo, a junior, is the team’s leading scorer so far, having amassed eight goals in the first six games. She also paced the Grizzlies with seven assists up to that point. Junior Sydney Torres and sophomore Josie Montejano have been excellent in the midfield at distributing the ball and controlling the pace of the game. Defensively, Copper Hills has been strong, too, and juniors Emmy Crowley and Valeria Ruiz have anchored that unit. 

“[Arauzo] has play-making and goal-scoring abilities,” Hendrix said. “[Crowley] and [Ruiz] lead a defense looking to improve and shut down difficult region opponents.”

Hendrix knows that Copper Hills faces some big tests in region play, where some excellent opponents await. The Grizzlies have also had a few down years, but Hendrix is pleased with the progress the girls are making. 

“We recognize we play in an extremely competitive region, and wins are hard to come by,” he said. “That said, we have high ambitions for our team and strive to be the best. Our objectives now are to play with the right attitude and effort. We haven't had the success on the field the past few years that we would like. As a new head coach, the biggest challenge is changing that perspective and belief within our team. In the past, we lacked confidence, leadership and the determination to fight through adversity. We are working hard to establish a culture where players are focused, consistently giving their best effort and playing with high energy. Regardless of the score, we want to be recognized as a team that never stops fighting.”  

Copper Hills defeated its first two region foes, including Bingham, which it beat 3-0 on Aug. 17. Palafox had two goals and an assist in that big victory. Miya Begay and Aspen Fraser combined for the shutout in the net. 

“I love the energy and excitement the girls bring to our practices and our games,” Hendrix said. “They are hungry for success, and that attitude and effort is creating competitive practices and producing positive results on the field. I love knowing they will compete and play hard.”

Though the Grizzlies have started off on a winning note, there’s a lot of soccer left to play. Hendrix knows the players need to remain focused and come to work every day. Other factors need to play in their favor for the wins to continue. 

“First and foremost, we need to stay healthy in key positions and improve defensively,” he said. “But most importantly, we need to be consistent in how we play—focused, high effort and high energy. If we can consistently play the right way, success on the field will come.”

Hendrix also pointed out that last year’s players earned a collective 3.5 grade point average. 

The regular season runs through Sept. 28 after the Grizzlies play every Region 3 opponent twice. The state tournament then begins. λ