Prep girls soccer: Bingham credits loss for recent surge

Prep girls soccer • The Miners managed to win only two games last season.
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South Jordan • Perhaps the most important result of the season for the Bingham girls soccer team came in late August in the Miners' first region meet of the season.

After posting a 5-1 record in preseason play, Bingham's Libby Weber said the team's confidence was high. Perhaps a little too high.

The Miners were thumped 4-2 at American Fork. While it was disappointing to start Region 4 play with a defeat, the loss served as a wake-up call.

"It just fired us up," said Weber, a junior defender. "We came into that game thinking we were going to [win], thinking 'It's just American Fork.' But in reality, we were not mentally ready at all.

"I feel if we didn't lose that game, we wouldn't have played as well as we did after that."

The renewed focus paved the way for five consecutive victories, including four shutouts by freshman goalkeeper Maddie Loftis. Suddenly the Miners, who limped through a 2-13-2 season a year ago, are vying for a top postseason seed.

Bingham entered play this week one game ahead of Lone Peak with three games remaining.

With a similar roster to that of last season, Bingham's turnaround can be attributed to its new coach, former Miners standout Jenni Clough, and an abundance of confidence each victory has instilled throughout the season.

"When we won our first game toward the end of last season, we were so excited, like we had just won the state championship," Weber said. "This year, we have worked harder and we're ready to play the games."

A little defense along the way hasn't hurt, either. Loftis' immediate impact shows in the statistics — Bingham has allowed just seven goals in region play — nearly half as many as the next closest team.

"Our defense comes through when our offense comes through," Weber said. "Defense can't hold off everyone, but if our forwards are scoring, it's easier for us to do our job."

Junior midfielder Marley Olsen said Clough's presence also has been a big influence. Clough, a Bingham assistant a season ago, played soccer and basketball for the Miners before graduating in 2005. That youth and energy has provided a boost throughout the roster.

"Jenni's helped us a lot," Olsen said. "I think she's awesome. She's played the game recently and seen all the new tactics."

Even more at stake

The Jordan-Alta rivalry will be heightened Thursday in girls volleyball when the two teams meet with first place in Region 3 at stake.

The Beetdiggers haven't lost in the month of September, and have lost just two games in their first four region matches. Alta's only loss was a five-game defeat against Brighton.