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West Jordan Journal

Trio of standouts lead Copper Hills turnaround as 13-3 team enters playoffs

Oct 12, 2023 03:02PM ● By Josh McFadden

Sydney Torres dribbles downfield for the Copper Hills girls soccer team. The junior helped guide the Grizzlies to a 13-3 record. (Photo courtesy of Sydney Torres.)

A year ago, the Copper Hills girls soccer team struggled to a 5-13 record and placed second-to-last in region play. This season was a whole lot different.

The Grizzlies improved to an impressive 13-3 overall record this season. They were second in Region 2 with a 9-3 mark, just a game behind Mountain Ridge. Though Copper Hills relied on a team effort to have such a successful season, three players, in particular, paced the team. 

Senior Baylee Beck, junior Sydney Torres and freshman Camila Palafox—each in her own way—helped engineer the Grizzlies’ improvement. 

Beck led by example, working hard on and off the field. Her stellar play as a Grizzly is especially noteworthy considering she doesn’t have as much experience as many of her teammates and opponents. 

“I started playing soccer when I was 12, in the middle of 6th grade, which is a lot later than most of the girls I've been playing with since,” she said. “I got interested in soccer when my fifth grade teacher kept encouraging me to try it. He told me constantly that I’d love the sport and that I could be really good at it if I tried. A year later, when I signed up for my first rec league team, I immediately loved everything about the sport.”

Torres, who had seven goals during the regular season, got involved at the young age of 4 and was playing competitively on a boys team by age 8. She soon moved to an all-girls team where she had tremendous success, winning tournaments all over the state and country. She said her father was her example and got her interested to start playing. 

“I got inspired by my father when I would watch him play,” Torres said. “I knew I wanted to be like him one day.”

The youngest member of the trio, Palafox, quickly made a name for herself. Many ninth graders must wait a couple of years to even get a shot on the varsity team, but Palafox was too good for head coach Justin Hendrix to leave off the field. She, like Torres, wanted to follow in the footsteps of her father. She joined a recreation team at age 6 with her sister and was playing on a competition club team just a year later. 

The three players’ journeys have each been different, but they all agree that playing for Copper Hills has been a special experience. The team camaraderie and positive atmosphere is something Beck, Torres and Palafox each note and appreciates. 

“The thing I enjoy most about the Copper Hills Team is the love and passion that you can feel from each of the girls,” Beck said. “I can feel the energy before I even see any of the girls before the game. The best part of playing with the grizzlies is that we play hard, and we play our game, and we stay in control, which is the best feeling in the world.”

Torres said the players each help one another perform their best. 

“The thing I most enjoy about playing with Copper Hills girls soccer is how supportive and uplifting the girls and the coaches are,” she said. “We all treat each other like a family. We feed off each other’s energy on and off the field. That’s what I like most about this unique High School team.”

As for Palafox, her first year has been an unforgettable one. She loves the work ethic her teammates show and the dedication her coaches have had. 

 “I enjoy being a part of the grizzlies team because I know every single girl will never stop fighting.” She spoke. “Additionally, I enjoy playing for the Copper hills team because they have an amazing coaching staff.”

Beck, Torres and Palafox each brings something a little different to the team. Beck is a speedy player and uses that talent to drive the Grizzlies’ offensive attack. She also said she has good composure and “brings energy and accountability” to the team. Torres is a competitor. She is also quick and has excellent ball control. She also said she has a good long-range shot and has “a mindset to win. Palafox, who was second on the team in the regular season with 10 goals and topped the Grizzlies with 12 assists, has a positive outlook and reads the game well. She believes she has “good pace and strength.”

The three Copper Hills starters speak highly of one another too, sentiments that exemplify just how close the Grizzlies’ players are. Beck said playing with Torres and Palafox is great because they “bring great technicality and speed to the game.” She also said their talents and skills make playing the game more enjoyable for her. 

“The two of them play insanely well together, and they feed off of each other’s energy,” Beck said. 

Torres credits much of the team’s accomplishments to Beck and Palafox. 

“I like playing with [Beck] because she brings defensive energy that’s contagious, and she’s always building other people up to be a better player on and off the field,” she said. “I love playing with [Torres] because we have a great attacking mindset together. We have a special bond on and off the field. She understands how to attack. Not only is she a goal scorer, she has great assists.”

Palafox echoes these thoughts.

“I love playing with [Torres] because we have the same way of playing and shaking the chemistry,” she said. “[Beck] has an outstanding positive mind, who will push you to do your best and hardest. All three of us bring a lot of energy to the team, whether it be emotionally or physically.”

It’s no wonder Copper Hills went from second-to-last place in region to second in just one season. For their efforts, the Grizzlies secured the third seed in the Class 6A state tournament and got a first-round bye. Copper Hills faces the winner of Lehi and Bingham at home on Oct. 10. The Grizzlies shut out the Miners 3-0 on Aug. 17. 

For Beck the state tournament is her last chance to play with Torres, Palafox and the rest of her Copper Hills teammates. However, she hopes to keep playing at the junior college level after she graduates. 

“I can’t imagine not playing soccer after high school, and I intend to be involved in the sport for as long as I can,” she said. 

Torres has a goal of playing in college, while Palafox knows she has plenty more time to think about the future of her soccer career. For now, she is cherishing the chance to play for Copper Hills. 

“I have enjoyed being able to be a great contributor to the team, especially as a freshman because I have three more years to look forward to,” Palafox said. “These girls have not only made me want to work hard for them but also for myself.” λ