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South Salt Lake Journal

Early on, Cottonwood boys soccer leans on younger players to fill key roles due to injuries

Mar 22, 2023 01:17PM ● By Brian Shaw

Brylee Harvest and his squad and back in action this spring (weather permitting). (File photo City Journals)

For Cottonwood boys soccer, a younger lineup will try to gain experience in a shortened preseason while the older players heal up from injuries, said head coach Brylee Harvest. 

“We return seven players out of last year's starting 11, however, our depth is being tested very early with injuries sustained from our players [during their] club seasons. A lot of rather inexperienced varsity players have been forced to step up and learn on the fly,” said the second-year head coach. 

“We had seven players make their varsity debuts in our game against Green Canyon (March 7) and I can imagine we will have more to come as we look to solidify a rotation until we can return to full health,” Harvest said. 

At Green Canyon, Cottonwood [0-1] played a very young starting 11 that had a few issues getting going in Cache County, a two-hour drive from the Colts’ campus. They fell into a 2-0 hole by halftime but played a bit better in the second half en route to a 3-0 loss, March 7. 

According to Harvest, the Colts have a core group of players that is “very experienced with 15 seniors and 11 juniors” listed among the 32 players on Cottonwood’s varsity roster.  

It’s that core group, the coach said, that he hopes will keep the team grounded and focused once those injuries have healed. 

“Every team will face adversity in a season. I am hoping we are experiencing the bulk of it now,” added Harvest, who has a 10-11 record as Cottonwood’s head coach and reached the 5A second round last year after a thrilling late-minute victory against Hillcrest. 

With a preseason schedule of games that is rather light, the Colts will actually have their home opener against a school with whom Harvest, a former Cottonwood standout under the last coach Dominic Militello, is definitely familiar: Jordan. 

Jordan will be a part of the revamped Class 4A region next year with Cottonwood. 

Insofar as holding a crystal ball or any kind of prediction about how this season might go, Harvest said he was optimistic about Cottonwood’s chances in Region 7 despite all of the injuries that were affecting more than half of his regular starters. 

“After the magical season of 2022, remaining poised with inevitably higher expectations will be the main point of emphasis for us this season. Our region is very tough, and we recognize that there is much we can improve on from last year and early in this nonregion slate,” Harvest said. 

“We open region play with last year's region champion Stansbury March 22 and on the road against our rival Hillcrest, who we know will eagerly be awaiting [us for] our March 24 battle,” Harvest said. “It should be an exciting conclusion to 5A.”

“We would like to leave 5A with a bang,” continued the coach. “Combining our abundance of upperclassmen with the amount of resiliency this team showed in my first season, it really is hard to put a ceiling on this team.” 

When asked what he saw in the near future for the Colts soccer team, Cottonwood Athletic Director Greg Southwick said he liked the progress he’s seen. 

“They were training real hard in the offseason from what I was told,” Southwick said. “There’s never any problems getting guys out for the soccer team here due to our very unique demographics.” 

By order of jersey number, the 2023 Cottonwood Colts boys soccer team is: 

Mazin Qader, Ben Barrowes, Hunter Vuong, Max Granzin, Matthew Miskimens, Guido Rocha, Arefa Salih, Yusuf Hussein, Vesal Azmayandeh, Diego Lopez, Ashis Tamang, Ulises Alvarado-Morales, David Galkin, Twana Kergaye, Josh Stettler, Adam Kergaye, Riyan Bakrim, Andres Acosta, Rex Hanson, Parker Evans, William Avila, Kaleb Whitkaer, Alan Hernandez, Talmage Winward, Jairo Licona-Vera, Hiram Lopez, Zennyth Young, Andres Alvarez, Craig Stephenson, Oscar Serrano-Hernandez, Issac Zamudio and Niyaz Kergaye.