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Tue, Oct. 22

Marauders soccer ready for season with high expectations
Girls team looks to make it back to championship

<b>Andrew Hickey</b> wins a header in a scrimmage Wednesday against North Canyon. VVN/Sean Morris

<b>Andrew Hickey</b> wins a header in a scrimmage Wednesday against North Canyon. VVN/Sean Morris

COTTONWOOD-Both boys and girls soccer teams at Mingus look solid this year. They've only played scrimmages, but the potential for something special has them working hard.

Girls

For the last several years Mingus girls soccer has contended for a title, and this year is no different. The program produces talent and the team looks dangerous.

When you have a prolific scorer like Torey Braly, a lot of times all you have to do is just get her the ball and she'll put it in the net, but against better squads Mingus will have to be more dynamic as a team.

Last year Braly was alone at the striker position for a lot of the time, but this year Mingus will probably have two strikers more often with the addition of sophomore Gabi Guerrero. She was sidelined last year with a knee injury, but she's a talented scorer too.

After a scrimmage against North Canyon Wednesday, Braly was encouraged by Guerrero's two-score performance.

"I'm excited to have Gabi up there with me because we'll be able to play the 4-4-2 more consistently instead of having me up there alone as a striker. I like the help up there definitely," said Braly.

Per usual, Braly scored three goals in the scrimmage. That's close to her average output. It's easy to be in awe of Braly's ability, but if you look at the entire Mingus girls roster this year, there are no weak spots.

Nataly Escamilla in the middle has great ball control and field vision. She's got strong legs and that will help her maintain possession--she's starting to look like Makenzie Mabery, a player with enough talent to play at a four-year college next year.

"From my perspective, this is a promising year," said Mabery. "I think we're going to peak."

Mabery plays her defensive midfield position very well because she enforces the middle and looks to distribute. She's got a powerful shot too, and will probably score a handful of goals from the outside this year.

The Mingus defense works very well together--there was a month-long stretch last year when they didn't give up a goal. A lot of that had to do with great play from keeper Courtney Hageman, but she was a senior last year. Now it's senior Taylor Brott's turn to be the number-one keeper.

"I got a lot of playing time last year, and I think that helps prepare me for this year," said Brott.

When given the opportunity, Brott showed great skills. Her athletic background is so diverse, so could probably play just about anywhere and have success.

Head coach Buddy Rhodes liked how his team played in the scrimmage.

"Alex Pee, Ana Guerrero, Cortlin Sandoval, and Delaney Scanlan looked great today, and we got exceptional work from Nataly Escamilla too," said Rhodes. "Makenzie Mabery was solid and winning just about everything, and what can you say about Torey--I mean, she's a D1 talent and you can see it. Overall, we've got some things to work on, but I'm happy with where we're at right now."

The girls' first home game is Dec. 6 against Bradshaw Mountain.

Boys

Last year the Mingus boys soccer team didn't make the postseason, but this year they're thinking they can make a run and contend for a championship.

"The talent base we have this year is the best I've seen in a long time, possibly the best ever," said head coach Cade Densmore. "If we can come together as a team, there's no telling what we can do."

Densmore is still working out his lineup, and a monkey wrench was just thrown on his dry-erase board. Three-year varsity letter sweeper Jonathan Witt might not be available this season because of a knee injury. They're currently in a wait-and-see mode, but the best-case scenario is he'll be out for the first half of the season.

He's great at his position, and now Densmore has to figure out a solution. In the scrimmage Wednesday Andrew Hickey played sweeper, but he hasn't played there much before. He's a defensive player, so it's not all that foreign for him. Densmore said he was encouraged by what he did in the scrimmage.

Although the lineup is in flux, some things are certain.

Senior Austin Strobel will play center midfielder. A lot of great players are on the squad, but Strobel is the leader. He'll feed the ball to sophomore striker Christian Escobar, who has all the tools to lead the team in scoring.

Jeorge Padilla will play a defensive midfielder/stopper position. When he bodies up with his big frame, he'll do very well.

Densmore said he's thinking about putting senior Williams Dominguez at striker along with Escobar. That could be a stellar combination. Dominguez's strength is creativity and knowing where his teammates are on the field. He's also been known to finish, so if Mingus controls the ball and funnels it to the top, the offense should produce results.

Adding to the excitement this year are two freshmen with loads of potential. They are Elias Pondeca and Rueben Contreras.

Pondeca is a striker and he scored in the scrimmage Wednesday. Densmore said he'll start the season as a reserve, but he could earn more playing time as the season progresses.

Rueben Contreras will play wing and Densmore has a plan to rotate the wings frequently to keep them fresh.

Rueben's older brother Alex enters his senior season this year. He had some great games last year and will play a big role this season.

The boys' first home game is against Bradshaw Mountain Nov. 29.

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