Story and photos by Kurt Johnson
OREM – We got an early sampling of the new-look Region 7 girls soccer Thursday and if the battle between Timpanogos and Timpview is any indication, it’s going to be an exciting ride.
The two-time defending state champion Timberwolves watched realignment separate them from the team they have beaten in each of the last two 4A state title games when Skyline was slid into Region 6, but a pair of new arrivals will keep the league interesting. Alta comes from 5A and Timpview moves in from Region 8, joining Timpanogos and Corner Canyon in a region that will be hard to win.
For now, the Thunderbirds have the upper hand, based largely on Thursday’s 2-1 victory over the T-Wolves. It did not come easy, even after Timpanogos went one player down for the final 17 minutes plus stoppage time, but it is a big win for a Timpview team that reached the state semifinals a year ago and that is looking to take another stop this season.
The combining of these two teams in the same league provides an interesting dynamic, which is added to by the presence of Timpview head coach Eric Brady’s daughter, Samantha, a freshman who plays for Timpanogos.
Thursday’s contest turned on three big plays, and all three went the way of the Thunderbirds. The first came midway through the first half.
With the Timberwolves controlling the run of play, particularly winning the battle in the midfield, for much of the opening stanza, it was Timpview that found the back of the net. The scoring play came on a corner kick, as Dakota Smith sent the cross about six yards out in front of the goal, where Paige Clarke was in perfect position. Clarke headed the ball home to put the T-Birds on top 1-0.
There were not a ton of shots on goal for Timpview before intermission, as Timpanogos kept heavy pressure on the Thunderbird defense, where Weslee Baird, Abby Woodfield, Katie Haskins and Kelsey Salveson did their best to protect Marren Nielsen between the posts. They caught a few breaks, particularly as the Timberwolves’ sophomore midfielder Tess Donaldson was just off target more than once, with one of those shots deflecting off the post and across the front of the goal without crossing the line.
Senior defenders Imelda Williams and Olivia Burnett were particularly active for the Timberwolves, as both found little resistance in carrying the ball from the back line to the scoring area on multiple occasions. Samantha Brady and Donaldson were also heavily involved in a strong Timpanogos possession game.
For its part, Timpview did find opportunities to counterattack and take enough pressure off its defense to maintain the advantage. After the halftime break, the Thunderbirds found their ball management game a little more and began to assert themselves more regularly into the attack. Then, in the 61st minute, they doubled their lead somewhat unexpectedly.
While Timpview set up for a free kick about 30 yards out in the middle of the pitch, as both teams appeared to be in the process of getting organized, Mica Schoenrock went with a quick restart. She rolled the ball through the stunned Timpanogos defense and into the goal. There was a moment of uncertainty as both teams looked to the referee to understand if the ball was even live, and he indicated the goal was good.
The 2-0 margin ratcheted up the intensity, with unfortunate results. A couple of minutes after that second Thunderbird tally, Timpanogos’ talented goalkeeper Carly Nelson lost her cool and, after an incident with the referee, Nelson received a red card and was ejected from the game.
Timpview created a number of scoring chances during the first few minutes of playing with a one-player advantage, and reserve keeper Cecilee Karns made a couple of nice plays to keep the score where it was.
Then, Timpanogos adapted to the situation, and regained its momentum despite playing short-handed. As the Timberwolves turned up the pressure, Donaldson was taken down inside the penalty area on a dribbling run towards the Timpview goal. Williams cashed in the penalty kick to pull the T-Wolves within a goal, but they could not get any closer.
The win give Timpview (1-0 in Region 7, 4-0 overall) the upper hand early in league play, while Timpanogos (0-1, 0-2-1) will likely visit Alta (1-0, 1-1-1) Tuesday without its goalie. The Thunderbirds are off Tuesday before hosting the Hawks next Thursday.