High School Girls Soccer: The Players of the Year 2021 were the ultimate playmakers for their teams
There was an abundance of individual and collective talent in the 2021 high school girl football season, providing a fair share of intriguing storylines.
However, some players were able to stand out among the talented crowd.
Here’s a look at the Deseret News girl soccer players of 2021 who made the biggest difference for their teams in each classification.
Rivertons Belle Christensen cheers after scoring against Skyridge goalkeeper Emalynn Levingston in the 6A girls’ state championship game at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Friday October 22, 2021. Laura Seitz, Deseret News
6A Player of the Year
Belle Christensen, Riverton, Sr., F
Riverton’s senior class – which led the Silverwolves to their first 6A state title in school history – is full of talent, but none has played better than Belle Christensen this season.
Christensen has scored 26 goals that season, the last when winning the championship game in Rio Tinto. Christensen’s 26 goals were the second largest in the 6A classification and were instrumental in helping Riverton end the 19-1 season.
But it wasn’t just scoring skills that Christensen put their stamp on the games. Her ability to create for her teammates proved unsurpassed in the 6A rating. The striker’s 12 assists were the highest in 6A.
“Belle is a great leader, goalscorer and teammate,” said Riverton manager Paul Moizer. “She became both a playmaker and a goalscorer that year. When the teams started betting on her in the second half of the season, she really started building her teammates and creating a balance on our team. “
Moizer added that Christensen’s character had as much of an impact on the team’s success as her playmaking skills.
“(Belle) is also one of the best people you could ever meet; She’s kind, positive, smart, and very supportive of her teammates, ”said Moizer.
Murray’s Sammie Sofonia flies over East goalkeeper Hannah Cessna as defenseman Miranda Lunt prepares to move the ball in a girls’ soccer game at Murray High School on Tuesday, August 17, 2021. Spenser Heaps, Deseret News
5A player of the year
Sammie Sofonia, Murray, Sr., F
An MVP award seems like an apt way to round off the high school career of Murray’s Sammie Sofonia, who will go down as one of the elite goalscorers in UHSAA girls’ football history.
Sofonia scored 31 goals and five assists in their senior season and ended their career with 116 goals and 26 assists in four years for the Spartans.
“Sammie is a fantastic player who has come through a lot in her life and deserves recognition,” said Murray coach Brady Smith. “Sammie, playing in one of the strongest regions in the state, has been a horror for the teams over a four-year period to stop. Her ability to finish with strength and finesse is unlike any other striker I have ever trained. “
Much to the relief of the rest of 5A and Region 6, Murray now faces a seemingly impossible task of replacing Sofonia next season.
“She won’t be replaceable personally or personally, but I know she will do great things in this world and I’m personally grateful for the chance to coach such a special player,” said Smith.
Baylie Baldwin (12) of Mountain Crest walks past Paisley Hinton of Crimson Cliffs in the 4A girls’ soccer state championship game at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Friday October 22, 2021. Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News
4A player of the year
Baylie Baldwin, Mountain Crest, Sr., F.
Baldwin, captain of the masterful Mountain Crest squad, was one of the most complete strikers in the rankings.
With 15 goals (third most in 4A) and 15 assists (second most in 4A), Baldwin was the only player in the standings to finish in the top five in both categories.
Baldwin’s speed and ability to create scoring chances were brought to full advantage in a title game in which she scored nearly three goals before freshman Summer Sofonia buried a sudden death free kick to secure victory.
“Baylie is one of those players that every coach wants on their team,” said Amber Hyatt, Mountain Crest coach. “She scored a lot of goals for us this year, but she also led the team with assists. She’s selfless, a hard worker, a great teammate, kind to everyone, and the list goes on. She is a very talented soccer player, but on top of that she is an all-round great person. “
Morgan’s Emma Toone pushes Ogden’s Neveah Peregrina (13) as they compete in the 3A girls’ soccer state championship game on Saturday 23 October 2021 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy. Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News
3A player of the year
Neveah Peregrina, Ogden, Sun., MF
One only has to watch the 3A championship game to understand why Neveah Peregrina earned the MVP honor for 3A. The sophomore midfielder scored the only goal of the game with a stunning free kick that earned the Tigers the state title.
While the goal was stunning for those who had never seen Peregrina play before, it came as no surprise to her teammates and coaches to see similar games to her all year long.
Peregrina has scored 13 goals and seven assists this year but much of the impact she brings cannot be counted on a state paper as her energy and passion for the game visibly lift her team when she steps on the field.
“(Neveah) is the definition of a happy player,” said Ogden manager Ryan Robinson. “She loves to play, she loves competition, she is a winner and she enjoys seeing it all in her teammates. She is the first to cheer and post the success of her teammates.
With two years of soccer left to play, Peregrina just seems to be scratching the surface of her potential – a scary thought for Ogden’s competitors in 3A.
“Neveah is as tech-savvy as any player in the state at any level,” said Robinson. “She is in her second year and will only mature in terms of skills, strength and understanding. She can take the ball anywhere on the field or take the ball to any other place on the field.
Waterford’s Seven Castin passes Rowland Halls Mackenzie White, right, and Maile Fukashima in the 2A girls’ soccer state championship game at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Saturday, October 23, 2021. Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News
2A player of the year
Seven Casttain, Waterford
Seven Castin’s senior season, which will go down in state history, was more than worthy of MVP recognition.
Casttain set a state record for goals in one season and found the back of the net 71 times that year to go along with 18 assists (the fourth most in the state). The striker took 3rd place in the total number of points at MaxPreps national and was the No. 2 goal keeper at MaxPreps national.
The culmination of a record season was the 2A championship game, in which Castin scored all four goals in Waterford’s 4-3 win over Rowland Hall.
Although Castin is a top athlete, Waterford trainer Kimi Miyashima said it was her field preparation that has made her such an outstanding achievement in her career for the Ravens.
“Technically and tactically, it is obvious that Seven is an exemplary footballer and brilliant on the pitch,” said Miyashima. “What sets Seven apart as a teammate, player and person, however, is her approach to the game off the field. I’ve known her as a player since she was young and she always wanted to come out and play, keep learning, find ways to improve and push herself in every aspect of the sport because she just loves football. “
Castin will play All-American Game in high school and represent the West before moving to Texas Christian University to pursue her football career.