The Wasatch High School girls soccer team has gone through a couple of changes at the helm since the retirement of longtime head coach Dawain Wheatley two years ago.
However, it looks as though the most recent choice to lead the Wasps into the future, is here to stay.
Gretchen Zigante, a nationally recognized player and coach, took over for Wasatch this fall, bringing along an extensive resume to help her rebuild the program.
After a playing career where she starred at UNC-Chapel Hill as a goalkeeper and a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team, Zigante turned to coaching fulltime in 1984. Since then she has earned the USSF A License (highest level attainable) and has coached collegiately at CSU-San Bernadino, San Diego State and Cornell.
Despite playing, administrating and coaching the sport on the highest of levels, collecting invaluable experiences along the way, Zigante, looking back on the 2018 campaign, feels she has a lot to learn in her new position.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Zigante said about her first season at Wasatch. “It’s been challenging. Not what we were hoping for record-wise, but I think we got our brand of soccer implemented and it will only get better from here.”
The season is over for the Wasps and much sooner than they had hoped. The team finished in fifth place in Region 8 with a 3-7 record, going 5-11 overall. Those numbers may not look that impressive on paper, but don’t tell that to their new coach who felt like her team played with a lot of heart the entire season.
“I’ve been very happy with the girls’ efforts this year,” she added. “We were overmatched in many games and we never quit fighting. Never gave up on our efforts and that says a lot about this team.”
Last week Wasatch finished its season hosting Region 8’s number one team, Maple Mountain and losing 2-0. It would have been a tall task to expect a victory against such a formidable opponent, but Zigante wanted her girls to put forth a great effort in front of their parents on Senior Night and season finale and that they did.
The Wasps played a solid defensive game against the Golden Eagles, holding them scoreless through the first half. Not until the 24th minute of the second period did a Maple Mountain ball enter the net. Only a last-minute goal on a long shot by the visitors kept the score from being 1-0.
It was an emotional ending to a tough season for the eight graduating seniors, but a promising glimpse into the future of Wasatch girls soccer.
“I think you saw tonight just how tough our girls can play. That’s the No. 1 team in our region, and we stayed with them. I feel very confident about our future.”
Wasatch County has a tremendous resource of young talent coming up through the ranks. Zigante likes the strong returning class and has great hope for the talent at the younger levels.
Even though the season is completed, Zigante isn’t just going to rest. She plans to put her players on weight training and indoor exercise throughout the winter before competing in club play in the spring.
The new Wasatch coach, who has seen her share of high-level women’s soccer, knows she is guiding a team that competes in a very tough high school region.
“I had heard a lot about this region and how tough it was to compete for a championship,” Zigante explained. “I was still a little surprised at how good these teams really are. It was exciting to see that yet very challenging at the same time. I know now that we’ve got our work cut out for us, but we are really excited about the future of our program.”