The Heart Mountain United soccer teams wrapped up their 2018 spring season over the Memorial Day weekend, with strong finishes at the Wyoming State Cup and Rec Fest in Casper.
“All of our teams did a good job, worked hard and definitely improved over the season,” said 8U coach Callee Erickson of her team’s season. “We had a lot of fun coaching this group of kids.”
The 8U boys team finished the state weekend with one win and two losses; their fourth game was canceled due to inclement weather.
The 8U girls team had a great state tournament, Erickson said, finishing off with three wins and one loss and taking second place on the weekend.
The 8U co-ed team found success as well, finishing fourth in its bracket with a 1-2-1 record.
“These kids finished hard and showed a lot of improvement by the end of the season,” Erickson said. “We look forward to seeing their many talents grow in the future.”
The 10U Bronze team battled hard during the state tournament — and without any substitutes at their disposal. According to coach Jael Fisher, “they played really hard with no subs in 90 degree weather.”
Despite only scoring two goals over the course of the tournament, both in their game against Rawlins, “we were able to rotate new kids into the goalie position since our regular goalie was gone,” Fisher explained.
Rotating positions gave all players valuable experience in different roles.
“This group of kids played a strong Worland team and held their own,” said coach Gary Brewer. “Worland would go on to win the co-ed bracket, so the bronze team’s performance against Worland showed a lot of heart and hard work on the part of each player.”
Meanwhile, the 10U Silver Heart Mountain United soccer team “had a wonderful State Cup tournament” in taking second, said coach Brewer.
The team opened the weekend with a game against the tough Green River Spurs, winning 4-2. An early goal by Braxton Batt was followed by a goal by Gianreye D’Alessandro, with an assist from Batt.
“Later in the half, we had a beautiful corner kick by Emery Hernandez to Coy Erickson to score a critical third goal,” said assistant coach Fisher.
In the second half, Coy Erickson scored another goal, with an assist from D’Alessandro.
“We had tremendous defense by Taylor Peters and Braylon Marchant and from Cody Fisher and Batt as goalies,” coach Fisher said.
Late in the second half, Marchant got hurt, meaning the team had to finish the game with only six players on the field.
“We missed having Ava Brewer over the weekend because of some extenuating circumstances and therefore didn’t have any substitutes,” coach Fisher explained. “We did great to hang onto the win with only six out on the field. The kids played really hard.”
The second game of the weekend came against Rawlins.
“We had a couple of early goals by Batt to start us off on the right foot” coach Fisher said. “[Coy] Erickson scored a great long goal at the end of the second half to keep us strong going into halftime.”
“It was incredibly hot that second game and the kids were so tired,” coach Fisher added.
But that didn’t slow them down. After coming off as goalie, Cody Fisher went on to score two more goals for the team. A final goal by Coy Erickson, with an assist from D’Alessandro, sealed the 6-2 win.
“Peters and Marchant provided tough, consistent defense and Hernandez was critical at the midfielder position,” coach Fisher said. “I was so proud of the hustle these kids gave despite having no substitutes and it being 90-plus degrees out. They played with some real grit.”
The third game came on Sunday morning against the Rock Springs Avengers. Batt made a perfect cross to Coy Erickson for a goal to get the game going.
“We went on to have four additional goals by [Cody] Fisher, three by Batt and another two by Erickson,” Brewer said. “Hernandez was crucial on several assists. D’Alessandro and Peters were great as our goalies, and Marchant provided key defense throughout the game.”
The final score was 10-2. The win put the team in the championship game later that day against Worland.
“We knew Worland was going to be a tough one,” Brewer said. “We are very evenly matched with them.”
Heart Mountain trailed just 2-1 when the whistle blew for halftime. They had a goal by Batt in the first half.
“We lost a little footing in the second half and at one point were down by four goals,” Brewer said. “I’m so proud of my team for rallying hard and getting back two goals — one by Hernandez and the other by [Cody] Fisher.”
Peters, Marchant, and Batt did a good job shutting down any more goals, and Erickson, Fisher, D’Alessandro and Hernandez did a great job advancing the ball and getting looks at the net, their coach said. The final score was 5-3 in favor of Worland.
“Of course we would have liked to get the win, but we’re very proud of second place,” Brewer said. “I can’t tell you how pleased I am that the kids kept fighting all the way to the very end. It’s always a little sad to see the season come to a close, but we played hard and improved with each game we played. This is a good bunch of kids.”
The 12U group had nothing left to prove in the silver brackets, the Heart Mountain squad played in the gold brackets all spring. Competing at the highest level, the team finished 10-5-1 in tournament play, with a first place finish at Snickers and two second places (State Cup and Cody Shootout).
“We finished second at state in the gold boys division — quite a feat for eight boys and five girls,” said head coach Brian Orr. “This was the first time a Heart Mountain team played for the state championship in the Gold division. We did awesome! We beat Rock Springs’ best boys team; Cheyenne’s best boys team and Casper’s best boys team; it is impressive for Powell to be beating towns much bigger than ours.”
The first game at the State Cup Tournament was against Rock Springs. Chance Franks got a hat trick and Gunnar Erickson added a long shot to take a 4-1 win. Andrew Moretti and Landon Hernandez shut down Rock Springs’ best player.
“Quite an improvement, having lost to them in Cody 6-2 previously,” Orr said.
Heart Mountain’s next game was against Sheridan, a team that had beaten Heart Mountain two times before.
“I implemented a different formation, putting two stoppers in front of our three defenders to keep Sheridan off the scoreboard,” Orr said. “We needed to play a low-scoring game to have a chance because they don’t give up many goals; coming into state they allowed a goal or less 16 out of 19 games.”
Parker Williams and Andrew Moretti played the stopper roles to perfection, and the game was scoreless at half. Sheridan scored early in the second to go up 1-0. With about seven minutes left in the game, Chance Franks found Gunnar Erickson open on the right wing, who drove in and scored the equalizer. The game finished in a 1-1 tie.
“We were the only Wyoming team to even tie them, as their only two blemishes were losing to Billings and Bozeman,” Orr said. “We were all so excited, it felt like a win. These two Saturday games showed the improvement our group had made.”
Early Sunday, Heart Mountain played Cheyenne and controlled the game en route to a 5-1 win.
“Our passing and defense were top-notch,” Orr said. “We were one game away from the state championship and we had to beat Casper.”
A Sunday thunderstorm pushed the game against Casper until Monday — and it was a nail-biter.
“Casper is a tough team, having played them in previous years,” Orr said.
Nayelli Aguayo made a “phenomenal” shot from deep in the corner right over the goalie, Orr said, giving Heart Mountain a 1-0 lead. Casper answered to tie it up 1-1 at halftime.
“Casper had quite a few chances in the first half, but our defense dried up their chances in the second half,” the coach said. “Nayelli Aguayo was able to get a pass from Gunnar Erickson midway through the half and score it into the right corner to win the game, 2-1.”
Sheridan and HMU squared off again in the championship, this time with Sheridan coming out on top 3-0.
“Our kids only allowed a goal a game for the first four games,” Orr said. “Treysan Norris, our goalie, Chance Franks, Emily Orr and Landon Hernandez were great on defense. Andrew Moretti and Kenna Cannon also played significant time on defense and did fantastic.”
“Unfortunately, Sheridan was not impacted by the storm, so they had fresh legs and several of our kids were starting to feel the effects of being sick,” Orr added. “Sheridan scored two goals in the first half and rolled to a 3-0 win against us. We had one good chance off a corner kick that Gunnar Erickson pushed wide but Sheridan pretty much shut us down.”
Despite the loss, the Heart Mountain 12U proved they belonged among the best teams in the state.
“At the awards ceremony, the State Cup representative looked at our mix of boys and girls team and asked ‘Coed bracket?’” Orr recalled. “I said, ‘Gold.’ Almost like he didn’t believe me, he asked us again, ‘Silver?’ I said, smirking, ‘No, Gold, we’ve been beating up the best boys teams you have in the state with this group.’”
Coach Orr also thanked his assistant coaches Jim Cannon and Callee Erickson and the players’ parents, saying they made the great season possible.
The Heart Mountain 15U also finished their season at the Wyoming Soccer Association State Cup May 26-27.
The usually fiery team played a little flat in dropping their first game to Green River 5-2. The team rallied and made a very strong showing the following day, but lost both remaining games, one to Lander 6-1 and the other in a playoff to Cody 4-2.
“The scores don’t accurately reflect the action in the games,” said head coach Brian Sweeny. “The HMUSA team generally out-shot their opponents but couldn’t overcome some poor luck.”
The team exceeded all expectations this season, Sweeny said, and showed why Heart Mountain continually develops some of the best players and teams in the state.
“The team benefited greatly from the expertise of Northwest College men’s coach Stan Rodrigues and his assistance during the course of the season,” he said. “The diverse team will change again next year, but look to continue their winning ways for the immediate future.”
HMUSA looks forward to an exciting fall season and welcomes anyone interested in playing. Registration opened July 1 and runs through July 27. Check the Facebook page for registration information and other club updates.