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Holladay Journal

Titans looking for another deep postseason run in boys soccer

Apr 09, 2024 11:27AM ● By Josh McFadden

Olympus’ Carden Neff (No. 10 in black) gets set to take a penalty kick in a game against Timpanogos earlier this season. Through five games, Neff led the team with eight goals and helped get the Titans off to a 3-2 start. (Photo courtesy of Jason Stebbing)

A year after reaching the Class 5A semifinals at Zions Bank Stadium, the Olympus boys soccer team hopes to at least match that effort in 2024. 

The Titans were just short of reaching the state championship last season, falling to Alta 1-0. This came after an up-and-down regular season in which the Titans tied for fourth in a competitive Region 6 with a 6-6 mark. But Olympus played well at state, winning three games. 

Head coach Christian Neff expects his team to be among the top teams in 5A once again this season. 

“The goal is always the same at Olympus: make a deep run in the state tournament and get back to Zions Bank Stadium,” he said. 

The start of the 2024 season has been solid. Olympus went 2-0 in the nonregion portion of the season with victories over Cottonwood and Timpanogos. The Titans lost a heartbreaker to open region play on March 15 at Brighton, falling in a shootout. Then, following a 3-1 loss at home to Alta, Olympus thumped Highland 7-1 on March 22. 

Neff lost a lot of talent off last year’s squad, leaving him with only a handful of returning starters. He is stressing the need for younger players to grow up quickly and assume bigger roles alongside the more veteran players. 

“To be successful, our few returning varsity players need to be stars, and our inexperienced guys have to be brave enough for big moments,” he said. “Our strength is in our experienced core right down the spine of the team. This group has experience competing in and winning games when it matters.”

Six players on this year’s squad saw significant time on the varsity team last year. Senior midfielder Carden Neff, whom Christian Neff described as a “terrific playmaker,” is the all-time assist leader in Olympus boys soccer history. Along with distributing the ball this season, Christian Neff said he’ll need him to score more. 

Another key midfielder is Asher Gubler. Neff also highlighted the play of Jameson Turpin, Benjamin Harrison and Talmage Gilbert. 

“[Gubler] is a dynamic box to box midfielder,” Neff said. “He is our X-factor with the ability to change the game in lots of ways. [Turpin] sets the tempo and playmaking from deep line positions. He returns after two seasons being injured and is in terrific form as he makes up for lost time. [Harrison] and [Gilbert] make up the state’s best center back pairing.”

The other starters are made up of newcomers to the varsity level, but Neff is pleased with what he has seen so far. 

“I am loving watching new guys grow into important roles for us,” he said. “We had 5A’s best defense last year. We will need to recapture that form to be our best.”

Neff and his players know the regular season will be a battle. Any number of Region 6 teams could win the league title and even compete for the state championship. But playing against such stiff competition should prepare the team well, Neff said. 

“We compete in the state’s toughest region by far with four of the top five teams in preseason rankings in the region,” he said. “I am excited to see how we respond to challenges. We have a great opportunity to be very good again if can meld inexperienced, talented newcomers with our experienced core.”

Through five games, Carden Neff leads the team in scoring with eight goals. Arden Harris, a sophomore, had three goals up to that point. Gubler was the leader in assists with four, while Neff had three assists of his own through five contests. Seven Titans scored during this stretch. 

Olympus has a brutal slate in league play, which ends May 7 at home against West. The 5A playoffs follow. Olympus last won a state title in 2012. λ