SALT LAKE CITY ?— Ashley Aberton scored two goals in the Skyline Eagles' 5-1 victory over visiting Murray on Thursday afternoon.
The fact that the senior scored the go-ahead goal and her team's fourth goal in the Region 7 matchup was quite significant, but definitely not surprising. In fact, watching Aberton send the ball to the back of the net has become somewhat commonplace for the top-ranked team in 4A.
Aberton has scored in 12 of Skyline's 13 matches. The only game in which she didn't score — the season-opener against 5A's fourth-ranked Davis Darts — was the Eagles' (11-1-1) only loss. She averages 1.31 goals per game, a statistic that ranks her fifth in the state and first in 4A among goal scorers.
"It's definitely a strong midfield and defensive presence," Aberton said, deflecting the praise to her teammates. "With Lauren Harmon in the middle, and Katelynne Halliday and (goalkeeper) Alli Spencer in the back — they are our leaders back there. They get everyone going and they can distribute the ball really well."
Her coach, however, was quick to commend the team captain.
"Ashley works hard, she never quits," said Yamil Castillo. "She comes early to practice to take shots; she is always trying to get herself psychologically ahead from game to game. It's in her heart, it's her passion."
The extra effort has apparently paid off. Aberton has committed to play soccer for Gonzaga University in the fall, where she will begin to work toward a law degree.
"It was such a family atmosphere (at Gonzaga) and the style of soccer there is what I love," she said, explaining how she chose the Bulldogs over other offers from USC and Colorado.
But before joining that team, Aberton and the Eagles need to focus on the season at hand, which on Thursday included coming from behind to defeat the Spartans.
On a free kick in the 27th minute, Murray's Marissa Earley floated the ball over the wall of Skyline defenders and the outstretched arms of Spencer to hit the left corner of the net and take the first lead.
"After the first goal, I just told my players, 'Don't panic. Just play your game and you're going to win,' " Castillo said. "Then we scored the first goal, and then the second. I have plenty of confidence they can get the job done, which they did."
Jaslyn Masina knocked in the first Eagle goal moments later. Just a sophomore, Masina is second in scoring for the Eagles and fourth in 4A.
"The combo with (Aberton) and Jaslyn, for any defense for any of the teams, they have a hard time marking both of them," Castillo added. "That's a lot of speed up front. Teams have a hard time playing with them, keeping pace with them."
Following Masina's goal was scoring from a string of Skyline seniors, perfect for the Senior Day celebration. Aberton scored her first goal on a penalty kick just as the second half got underway. Emily Cassell corralled a rebound in the 52nd minute for a goal at close range, and was followed soon after by Aberton's second score.
Hannah Morris scored the Eagles' final goal when she found an opening while driving across the middle of the field in the 67th minute.
The Eagles, who are averaging a four-goal margin of victory, have three regular season games remaining before diving into the state tournament.
Skyline lost to Timpanogos, 1-0, in the 4A championship match last season, and is now focused on a second chance at the title game.
"I have a lot of experienced seniors," Castillo said. "You can tell they are very committed, and they have one common goal — to win the championship. My job is to keep them focused on one game at a time."