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North Sanpete’s Luis Cruz, #38, controls possession against Richfield last Thursday April 19.

 

Sanpete fields strong soccer teams

 

Manti, North Sanpete in reach of
title, Gunnison will make playoffs

 

By James Tilson

Staff writer

Apr. 26, 2018

 

MANTI—Sanpete County boys soccer has been strong this year, with all three county teams qualifying for the playoffs, and two of them competing for a region title.

Manti and North Sanpete, both in 3A Region 15 this year, head into the last week of the regular season with the region title still within reach. Both are assured of a playoff berth, and the outcome of the regular season title could go a long way towards determining how difficult a path either team has to reach the state final.

Gunnison will not win a regular season title this year, but is also assured of making the playoffs. The Bulldogs’ coach is confident his team will be ready for the playoffs, and feels like it can win on any given day.

Manti High School

After graduating 11 seniors from last year’s squad, anyone could be excused for thinking that this year would be a re-building year for the Templars. But Coach Ben Schoppe has taken a young roster and built a team that is competing for the Region 15 title in Manti’s first year in class 3A.

Returning players Alberto Palmerin, Brian Chavez and Noah Cano-Munoz, a local transfer student, have become the core of this year’s team. Coach Schoppe said those three players have “worked hard to build confidence and camaraderie within the squad.” Schoppe also pointed to freshmen Trace Boggess, Braden Boggess and Ernesto Duran as being significant contributors on the offense and in the midfield.

At time of press, the regular season was coming down to the last week. Manti sits at 6-2-0 for Region 15, and is in second place. Manti was scheduled to play first place Emery on Tuesday April 24, and the regular season finale is at North Sanpete on Thursday April 26, kick off scheduled at 4 p.m. “It’s crunch time,” Schoppe said.

The first two weeks of May will be the soccer playoffs, a “wild ride… where anything can happen, usually does, and nothing is predictable.”  Schoppe is optimistic: “As a team, you do your best to position yourself for the opportunity of playoffs, avoid injuries, red cards and all of the things that can cut your season short, play your best soccer, and as they say, ‘Luck favors the prepared.”

North Sanpete High School

The Hawks have also excelled in Region 15 play, sitting in third place with a region record of 5-2-1. But to get there, they took some lumps out of conference. Coach Zachary Ostraff explained: “I scheduled a lot of difficult non-conference games this year, and in most of them, we were competitive but lost. We were really able to come together for region play.”

Ostraff pointed out two leaders on his team. “Carlos Navarro is definitely the emotional leader on and off the field,” he said. “The way he plays and engages during the game is very indicative of our team as a whole.”  The other leader is Luis Cruz. “When Luis is able to play his position the way I’ve asked, our team has really done well.”

Manti’s Noah Munoz, #8 above, gets ready to score against South Sevier last Thursday April 19.

Ostraff said his team is also looking forward to the final game of the year against Manti. “We want to finish strong against Manti.” Ostraff remembered that his team did not win their first matchup earlier in the season. “As the coach, I want to particularly finish well against Manti because our first game against them was discouraging,” he said. “I didn’t feel like the team I’ve seen in most of our region [schedule] showed up for that game. As a team, we were only engaged for about ten minutes against Manti. In those ten minutes, we scored two goals.”

Depending on the outcome of the last week of the regular season, the Hawks could wind up anywhere from first to third in the region. But Ostraff is not going to let his team get too far ahead of itself. “We know we’ll have at least one game, probably a home game, but if our focus goes beyond that we won’t compete. So we’ll focus on the remaining games on our schedule, and then we’ll worry about state.”

Gunnison Valley High School

Going in to the last week of the regular season, the Bulldogs were in fourth place in 2A Region 18. However, wins in the last two games could vault them to a second or third place finish with some favorable outcome elsewhere. And Coach Ryan Dahlberg is optimistic about their chances: “Any team [in our region] can win on any given day. Our chances are just as good as the next team’s.”

Dahlberg pointed to three leaders on his team that have led the way this season. “Brayan Ruiz has scored most all of our goals this season,” he said. “Offensively, he has been our biggest contributor. Francisco Ledezma has been an outstanding goalie all year. He’s saved two penalty kicks and has made a lot of big saves that have kept us in many games. Parker Judy has been more of an emotional leader. He’s worked hard in the center, and has provided a lot of support offensively and defensively.”

With the big push to end the regular season, the Bulldogs are fighting for seeding and the possibility of a home game to start the playoffs. With so much on the line, Dahlberg said, “I have no doubt the boys will be ready for the playoff game in a week and a half.”