Mountain Ridge soccer wins region title for first timeOct 01, 2022 06:45PM ● By Justin Adams
Freshman forward Kya Newton has scored 18 goals so far this season. (Justin Adams/City Journals)
By Justin Adams | [email protected]
In its fourth year of existence, the Mountain Ridge girls soccer team has won the Region 3 crown. As of the Journal’s press deadline, the team held a perfect region record of 9-0, with one game remaining against Copper Hills on Sep. 27.
Not only had the Sentinels not lost a region game, they won many in dominant fashion. Through nine games, they had accumulated a combined goal differential of 33-5. Even more impressive is the fact that this is a pretty young team, as they only start three seniors.
Head coach Jeremey King credits the team’s success to a few ingredients: their maturity, their fitness and their willingness to play as a team. All three of those traits were on display during one match last month against Copper Hills.
After a hard-fought yet scoreless first half, Copper Hills was able to get on the scoresheet first in the second half. While a lot of teams start to panic when they concede a first goal, the Sentinels instead just buckled down and scored five of their own in response.
“Copper Hills came out and smacked us in the face. They were more physical than us. They were aggressive. They were beating us to the ball. But the team just dug down,” King said.
It’s also no accident that the team scored so many goals in the second half. King said the team takes pride in their fitness level - he doesn’t sub much and only plays about 14 players regularly.
“Our motto has always been, we’re going to play hard until the end, so we’re going to score a lot of our goals towards the end of the game,” he said.
The leading goal-scorer for the Sentinels this year has been freshman phenom Kya Newton, with an astounding 18 goals, the most by any player in the 6A classification.
“Kya Newton is one of the most coachable kids I’ve ever met. She comes to practice every day and works hard, takes criticism and coaching well. She’s a great teammate,” King said.
That coachability comes in part from being the daughter of a coach, according to King. (Newton’s mom is McKenzie Newton, the Mountain Ridge girls basketball coach.)
But it’s by no means a one-girl wrecking crew, as 10 other players on the roster have registered goals this season. And many of the goals scored by Newton are made possible by her teammates.
Sophomore midfielder Kelsie Peterson is the team’s primary distributor, and leads the team in assists. “She controls the middle of the field. Everything runs through Kelsey. Her and Kya have developed a great relationship,” King said.
As the regular season draws to a close and the team sets its eyes on the state tournament, King said they still need to work on playing faster and handling pressure better. The state playoffs kick off Oct. 6.