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South Salt Lake Journal

Armed with a new coach, Cottonwood boys soccer looks for more with a team that is battle-tested

Apr 03, 2022 07:34PM ● By Brian Shaw

By Brian Shaw | [email protected]

Having a new head coach can be a tricky proposition. 

However, the Colts seem to be getting a little better with every game they play. The touches on the ball are becoming more crisp and the runs off of the ball a little more precise now that the players under new head coach Brylee Harvest have had time and a few games to adjust.

“We got back to fundamentals and really started to play the type of soccer we know we're capable of playing,” said Harvest who was the team’s top assistant coach for Cottonwood’s former head man Dominic Militello who is now the head coach for the University of Utah men’s club team. 

In every game of the five games that Cottonwood [0-5] has played, there has been some improvement according to Harvest who added that his team found themselves in a lot of battles during the preseason.

One in particular came when the Colts lost 1-0 on March 11 off of a penalty to 6A Westlake. But a really big one in Harvest’s estimation came during a two-game, one-day tournament they attended in Cache County March 12 when the Colts fell 2-1 to defending 4A state champs Ridgeline in double overtime and then suffered another heartbreaking 2-1 overtime defeat at Logan. That said, the new head coach was pleased with his team’s progress despite the losses.

“Our team has shown tremendous growth from the preseason heading into region play. We did not exactly have the ideal start to open our season with a 4-0 loss to Orem [March 8], but I have been extremely proud of the team’s response,” said Harvest of that four-game preseason in which the Colts hit the road for three of their four. “It truly was remarkable to see the boys become closer as a team and be competitive all the way to the final whistle.”

So when the Colts opened the Class 5A Region 7 portion of their season March 18 at Stansbury they were ready for the long bus rides that come with playing away games in their new alignment and it showed. Were it not for a second-half goal from Stansbury in a 1-0 loss the Colts would have perhaps taken another team to overtime for the third game in a row and perhaps won their first on the year.

Getting used to life on the road will be key for Cottonwood, because the school is in its first season in the new Region 7 alignment in which the Colts will be traveling upward of 350 miles round trip to one school, another 100 miles round trip to two other schools and 80 miles to two others. The only school to which the commute to away games will be short is rival Hillcrest, just across Interstate 215.

“The boys are excited for the chance to compete in a new region and look forward to playing against old region foes such as Hillcrest and creating new rivalries,” Harvest said. “I’m interested to see how our 22 upperclassmen take control of this team, many who have played at the varsity level since their freshman and sophomore years.” 

The Colts are loaded with juniors. Fifteen in all comprise this year’s varsity roster, along with four seniors. It is a veteran bunch that has been through the wars before, having faced teams like Olympus and Brighton twice a year in their former region when enduring blowout losses were part of a routine for what then was a young team.

But this is now and the youngsters are battle-tested and poised to change their fortunes.

“The likes of Ulises Alvarado-Morales (junior), Riyan Bakrim (junior), Ben Barrowes (junior), Oscar Serrano-Hernandez (junior), Victor Gomes (junior), and our senior captain Hyrum Hanks will all be key contributors for our team’s success this season,” Harvest said.

In order of their jersey number the players for the Cottonwood boys soccer team are: Victor Gomes, Alex Niyonizeye, Mazin Qader, Say Reh, Hunter Vuong, Diego Lopez, Dishan Vijayakumar, Jonas Hohaia, Max Granzin, Twana Kergaye, Gustavo Silva, Hyrum Hanks, Matt Miskimens, Adam Kergaye, Ulises Alvarado, David Galkin, Arefa Salih, Ashis Tamang, Rex Hanson, Guido Rocha, Riyan Bakrim, Isma Byangoy, Josh Stettler, Parker Evans, Talmage Windward, Jairo Licona-Vera, Vesal Azmayandeh, Ben Barrowes, Yusuf Hussein, Oscar Serrano, Mohamed Barati, Hiram Lopez, Aidan Jameson and Niyaz Kergaye.