Story and photos By Kurt Johnson
Editor’s Note – The TOSH Top 30 is our countdown of the top 30 stories from the 2015-16 school sports year, beginning with No. 30 and counting down, one story a day, to No. 1. The 2015-2016 high school sports year was filled with big performances, both team and individual. The act of narrowing down our initial list of top stories for our TOSH Top 30 stories of the year to just 30 was a difficult task. We asked people all over the state for input into our final list and beginning June 22, we are counting them down in reverse, from story No. 30 to story No. 1. Hopefully your favorite story of the past school year made our list.
Undefeated season. Second consecutive state championship. National championship. With Division 1 recruits all over the field, expectations were high for the Davis High girls soccer team in 2015 and this team answered every challenge. The Darts spot atop the national rankings after a hugely successful campaign earns them the designation of the No.1 story of the year in the Preps Utah/TOSH Top 30 for the 2015-2016 school sports year.
#1 – Davis soccer earns national respect
With players on its roster committed to play at BYU, Utah and other major girls soccer programs across the country when the complete their time on campus, the Davis High girls soccer team carries a target each time it takes the field. The Darts spent the season getting everyone’s best shot and while it got a bit sticky during the postseason, none of those shots knocked Davis off its game.
The Darts finished the season 20-0 and outscored their competition 109-8 and in the process earned the designation of national champion from USA Today.
A year earlier, Davis was the underdog entering the state tournament, chasing a team that was attempting to run the table. The young and talented Darts ended Lone Peak’s pursuit of perfection before taking on the favorite role in 2015.
“It’s difficult here at Davis High because every team we play, we get their best,” Phongsavath said. “Regardless of our record this year, it was always that way with just being Davis High, in other sports and with the name that we have. I would much prefer to be under the radar, but that wasn’t going to happen this year. With the girls we were returning and our record the way it was, we’re not at all going to be an underdog and it’s hard to even manufacture a scenario where we are the underdog.”
The Darts prolific scoring was paced by sophomore Olivia Wade, a member of the US Women’s National Team program, who buried an incredible 32 goals. Add in Ireland Dunn’s 17, 14 more from Mikayla Colohan, Megan Rowe’s 11 and 10 from Amy Alcott and that’s a lot of places from which to get offense.
“We’ve had teams that were almost as talented and could knock the ball around, but this year, we have a plethora of girls that can finish and are clinical in front of the net,” Phongsavath said. “You see that with our goal scorers. We have four or five that are double-digit goal scorers this year and it’s great to have because if somebody’s not on, we have someone else to come in and get it done.”
The ability to get players in position to score goals was largely a function of outstanding leadership from the midfield, and that started with Colohan.
“(She is) 100 percent without a doubt (the leader in the midfield),” Phongsavath said. “She is the point guard on this team. There’s not one player that I’ve ever coached that is as good at distributing as she is. She can feed you every which way possible. She loves to get people involved. I think she would rather have a great assist than a great goal.”
Colohan agrees with that assessment from her coach. She loves a good pass.
“I’m content with that (setting things up),” she said. “I like to score, I’ll do everything I can. To me, it’s not who scores or that I’m the one scoring, it’s what we’re doing as a team. If I get an assist to win a game or if I score to win a game, I’ll take either one.”
Phongsavath points to a win over Viewmont in the final week of the regular season as an example of what he has come to expect from Colohan.
“The assist she had against Viewmont was the best pass I’ve ever seen her make,” Phongsavath said. “None of us were looking at that run, we were looking at Ireland out wide, to have her take it in, but she saw that run (by Olivia Wade). I don’t think Olivia had to break stride one bit, it was a perfect pass.”
The problem Davis opponents face, however, is that the back line is just as strong. The Darts have also navigated their schedule while yielding just those nine goals to their opponents.
“I feel like the attack really helps us (defenders) a lot because they keep the ball,” said senior defender Jamie Alvarez. “We have our big moments where we have to save us, but I feel like our attack keeps it a lot so that really helps us in the back as well.”
Phongsavath looks at his defenders as the place it all begins for this team. He refers to them as a “senior back line,” and notes that most of these players have been starters since their freshman season.
“They’re a very skilled and technical back line,” Phongsavath said. “I have to tell them sometimes to kick the ball and play long every now and again because they just won’t do it. They want to build out of the back every time and play a really attractive brand of soccer. That’s where everything starts for us, their confidence back there.”
When things got tight in those state tournament games, three straight matches determined by a single goal – a 2-1 quarterfinal win over American Fork followed by 1-0 wins over Fremont and Weber to gain the title – there was always the knowledge that this team knows what to do in front of the net.
“Soccer is unlike any other sport in that you have to finish or you will not win,” Phongsavath said. “You can dominate in football and basketball and outshoot them and most of the time you’re going to win. We have to finish and we have finished. With Kayla and the other midfielders, we create plenty of opportunities to score. If we don’t put those in the back of the net, then when the games are tight, it will let teams hang around and you never know what will happen in a close game.”
Friday practices have become a memorable part of life as a Davis High soccer player. They call it “Fun Friday” and it is something players who move on remember for a long time. This year, the funnest Friday of all came Oct. 23 at Rio Tinto Stadium when the group celebrated its second state championship – our top story of the year.
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