Samantha Johnson

Junior forward Samantha Johnson makes a pass toward the goal for Trivium Prep girls’ soccer. (West Valley View photo by Eric Newman)

In their four years, the Trivium Prep Crimson Knights have made the playoffs each season. At the end of the 2016-17 run, it even reached the 3A state championship.

This season, seniors who have been with the program since its inception will graduate. Don Radford saw something special in the girls. He retired after more than 20 years of coaching, but returned to work with them when they were sixth graders.

“Somebody told me there was this group of sixth graders who were really talented, and they just needed a coach. So, I came back to coaching and have been with them since. It’s been really great,” he said.

Trivium Prep plays Tempe Prep at home at 4 p.m. Thursday, December 13. Four-season senior goalkeeper Tori Gutierrez said the athletes have simply loved playing with each other.

“At first we kind of felt like we had to prove something because we were a young team and I don’t think people were expecting much out of us,” Gutierrez said. “But, we kind of came in and made a mark, and us seniors want to just do as much as we can and try to win state our senior year.”

Trivium’s class sizes are small, so many of the school’s top athletes play multiple sports. Many of the female soccer players compete in volleyball together.

Seniors Macyn Willingham and Paula Rosztoczy were captains on this year’s 29-10 volleyball team who reached the playoff semifinals in November, and were on the soccer field just days later. They are two of the captains – along with midfielder Kenna Roderick – on the soccer team as well.

“All of us who play volleyball love that, too,” Rosztoczy said. “It’s great for us because we kind of are always on the same team. And, it’s really good for us because we use muscles that we don’t work on as much in soccer.”

“Really, so many of us who play both have been friends for so long. The sports all blend together and almost feel like just a long season,” Willingham added.

The seniors and their younger counterparts are looking to win a state championship in their last year together.

“We’ve already done so much, and had a lot of success, so now winning state is what we’re aiming for. It would be a great way for us to go out,” Willingham said.

As much as a state championship would validate the work the girls have put in together for years, Radford said the team doesn’t just care about a win. It’s about being a stop in a successful life journey.

“You need a couple bounces to go your way, maybe get a favorable call from the refs, so there’s so much that goes into the winning state, even more than just being the best team,” he said.

“I tell them, though, that wherever they end up, it’s about the relationships they’ve made together and how they’ve improved on the field. I’m so proud of them however it ends.”