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Manti junior Katelyn Crouch moves the ball down the field during the team’s 3-1 loss to Morgan during the 3A state championship at Rio Tinto Stadium on Monday.

 

Lady Templars soccer team falls

to Lady Trojans in state final

 

By Matt Harris

Staff writer

10-29-2020

 

SANDY—The Manti girls’ soccer team hung their hat on defense all season long, but the one team that knew how to pick the lock did it again.

The Lady Templars allowed three goals in regulation for the first time since the beginning of last season as they lost to Morgan, 3-1, in the 3A state championship match last Monday. It was the second time this season that Manti lost to Morgan, comprising their only two losses of the year.

“I’m proud of my girls,” Coach Eleshia Steinfeldt said. “We fought hard to get here all year, and they left it all on the field tonight. That Morgan team’s a very great team.”

Morgan was the first to attack when one of the Lady Trojans took a weak shot that rolled harmlessly towards senior goalkeeper Katie Larsen. In the fifth minute, Larsen deflected a corner kick to halt the aggressive attack by Morgan, but it didn’t stop the Manti defense from being backed into their side of the field for the first six minutes.

Larsen got another save from a direct shot on goal in the 12th minute as Manti continued to struggle shaking off Morgan’s offense. Then in the 13th minute, senior Kassidy Alder briefly went out with an injury after bashing ankles with a Morgan player. She reentered the game in the 15th minute.

Larsen got another save on a long shot in the 18th minute, then another in the 23rd minute as the Lady Templars continued to go without a single shot on goal.

In the 31st minute, Manti streaked downfield and earned a free kick that Alder missed wide left for Manti’s first shot on goal.

In the 34th minute, Larsen saved yet another shot, this one by the fingertips as the shot nearly went overhead.

In the final minute of the first half, Morgan earned a penalty kick on a controversial penalty inside the goal box, which Capri Jones scored on the right side to go up 1-0.

Manti immediately got downfield to take another shot and missed off the foot of Alder again before the half ended.

In the second half, Morgan got back to business immediately, earning a corner kick saved again by Larsen in the third minute, but Alder got open shortly after to take another good-looking shot that sailed high.

Morgan again got downfield in the fourth minute and spent a few straight minutes harassing the Templar defense, but Larsen came up heroic with a diving block to prevent Morgan’s second goal.

In the 15th minute, senior Ally Squire had as good a shot as any with only the goalie to beat, but she missed it wide left. Nevertheless, Manti began to show a change in the winds as Alder took yet another shot on goal just a minute later.

Then, in the 26th minute, Morgan’s Jayda Jones, Capri’s sister, streaked by Manti’s defense and snuck a second goal to go up 2-0.

“We totally switched our formation in the second half,” Steinfeldt said. “We went long, went to our forwards, tried to see if we could [score], we went with a more aggressive attack than we usually do, but when you’re down by two, you can lose by two or you can lose by four, so you may as well just go all in.”

With 15 minutes remaining, Manti turned up the heat on offense to take chances at outrunning Morgan’s defense but never with enough speed or execution to quite get there.

Then, Manti earned a penalty shot in the 67th minute that senior Allie Bridges nailed home for Mant’s first score of the game, marking Bridges’ 10th goal of 2020 and what would wrap up an 18-goal career with the Lady Templars.

In the 69th minute, the Lady Trojans immediately responded with another goal from Brooklyn Peterson.

Manti could do no more to undo fate, and Morgan claimed the crown to the cheers of a large Trojan crowd with a student section roughly five rows deep.

There were several points throughout the game that the Manti delegation of the crowd took issue with calls by the officials, beginning with the penalty that led to Morgan’s first goal.

“There are things you can control and things you can’t control,” Steinfeldt said. “The refs, you can’t control, you just have to stay with it, stick with your game plan, and play the way you came to play.”

Manti finishes this season as the 3A Runner-up in their fourth straight playoff appearance and second straight championship game appearance. They will graduate six seniors: Kassidy Alder, Allie Bridges, Taylor Chidester, Jayci Jolley, Katie Larsen and Ally Squire.