Cougars soccer finished second in a rebuilding seasonDec 04, 2022 11:30AM ● By Greg James
By Greg James | [email protected]
Kearns High School’s girls soccer team has taken residence near the top of Region 2. The 2022 season was supposed to be a rebuilding year, but they found a way to make it to second place.
“Our season went good,” Cougars head coach Jenessa Robison said. “We lost 14 seniors last year, so it was an undertaking to replace girls and see what would work together.”
The Cougar's rebuilding season finished with nine region wins and second to Roy in Region 2. Kearns won a region title in 2020 and has placed second the last two years.
“We were hoping to finish somewhere in the middle of the region, so we performed better than we anticipated,” Robison said.
The season started slowly for the Cougars. Every game was decided by one goal. Their only preseason wins came against Tooele and Ben Lomond.
Their defense seemed to be solid from the start of the year. Senior goalie Victoria Espinoza held on for six shutouts. As captain, she rallied her team and kept them on task.
“She (Espinoza) was amazing this year, absolutely impeccable. Every ref talked to her about some of her amazing saves. She encouraged the team to come together to fix problems,” Robison said.
Espinoza secured 14 shutouts in her career at Kearns. She was a sophomore when Kearns won its first region title in 20 years.
“There were seasons when this team was lucky to walk away with two wins,” Robison said after that championship. “We are setting a new culture at Kearns.”
Zaiah Menlove was the leading scorer this season with 15 goals. She was a transfer from RSL Academy in Herriman.
“We were lucky she was able to play for us this season. We put her at a new position, and she was good at connecting with her wings and finding ways to build with them,” Robison said.
Robison said Jazmine Lopez, Sariah Glade and Victoria Espinoza were important leaders on the team.
Glade was the team's second-leading scorer with six goals. Lopez and Espinoza played important defensive roles on the team.
Kearns finished the season seeded 10th by the UHSAA. They hosted Copper Hills in the first round of the playoffs.
“The Copper Hills playoff game was well fought. They were constantly subbing in new and fresh players, and we could not hold out. We just do not have the depth to stay with the bigger teams. We just could not get a goal,” Robison said.
With the game knotted at one, Copper Hills capitalized with a goal.
“There was an unlucky handball after some jostling around with our players and the goalie,” Robison said. “After that, we were a little bit deflated.”
Copper Hills advanced to the second round and lost to Davis. Last season Kearns defeated Copper Hills, but this season they were not as lucky.
Robison is excited about the team coming back next year.
“We have a young team coming back, our defense is mostly sophomores. I know we have some good freshmen coming up and are excited for this team and the future. We could put up a good fight in our region,” Robison said.