By Kurt Johnson
Photos by Kevin McInnis
Editor’s Note – The TOSH Top 25 is our countdown of the top 25 stories from the 2016-2017 school sports year, beginning with No. 25 and counting down, one story a day, to No. 1. The 2016-2017 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 25 stories of the year to just 25 was a difficult task. We asked people all over the state for input into our final list and beginning July 5, we are counting them down in reverse, from story No. 25 to story No. 1. Hopefully your favorite story of the past school year made our list.
Today, we reveal No. 25 and celebrate the first-ever state girls soccer championship for Timpview High.
#25 – Timpview adds girls soccer to banner collection
Championships are not a new thing at Timpview High School, where the Thunderbirds have a history of winning. Football, volleyball and boys tennis are among the sports in which Timpview sports a generous collection of championship hardware.
In 2016, a special group of players added girls soccer to the list of sports in which the Provo school has a UHSAA championship banner. The 2015 T-Birds were the team that seemed most likely to deliver the school’s first title in girls soccer, but that team fell victim to a second-round upset on its home field, as Box Elder played Timpview even at 2-2 through regulation and a pair of extra periods before prevailing in a penalty kick shootout.
That group of Thunderbirds shared the Region 7 regular-season championship and finished its season at 14-1-1, but came up short of the ultimate prize it coveted. Though the overall record was not as impressive in 2016, there was something Eric Brady’s team had learned a year earlier – how to finish what it started.
An 11-3 Region 7 record left the T-Birds behind Alta in the league standings and sent Timpview on the road for Round 2 of the playoffs, after the Thunderbirds knocked off Maple Mountain 2-1 in the postseason opener. This time, the team avoided the uncertainty of the shootout and took care of Region 5 champion Bonneville by a 3-1 count.
Having avoided the early-round exit, the T-Birds seemed to thrive on the momentum and they rolled 17-2 Region 6 champion Skyline 5-0 in a state semifinal matchup at Juan Diego High School. Dakota Smith buried three goals in that contest that finally sent Timpview to the coveted pitch at Rio Tinto Stadium to face a surprising East team for the Class 4A state title.
A defense powered by veteran goalkeeper Marren Nielsen and talented defenders Kelsey Salvesen and Katie Haskins put the clamps on the dynamic Leopard attack in that championship battle. That allowed Timpview to move the ball with patience through a scoreless opening half until the Thunderbirds found space to score a pair of second-half goals to earn that first-ever championship banner by a 2-0 score.
Smith was the playmaker in the finale, setting up both Timpview finishes in a physical battle between a pair of teams that played with a chip on their shoulder. The T-Birds dominated the ball for most of the final 40 minutes, but had to survive a final East flurry down the home stretch.
Timpview finally broke through in the 45th minute with a beautifully executed combination of passes, culminating when Smith found freshman striker Lily Haskins, who touched the ball home just beyond the reach of the East goalie.
With a crowd of players in front of the net, Smith created a chance for Alyssa Spackman in the 70th minute and the junior was there to finish it off. Smith’s initial shot was within reach of the keeper, but just barely, but when she turned the ball away, Spackman was on the doorstep to redirect it into the back of the net for the second goal that put the contest out of reach.
The Timpview program has been on a steady climb since Brady took over, and this 15-4-1 team had just what it took to allow Thunderbird girls soccer to join the championship club at Timpview. It’s No. 25 on our 2016-2017 TOSH Top Stories of the Year.