MANTI—The Manti girls’ soccer started their season two weeks ago under a new head coach, and the transition appears to have been seamless.
The Lady Templars, led by head coach Nate Bridges, got their season off to a 4-0 start with wins all over the state. Being no stranger to punching above their weight class, Manti’s undefeated start came entire against teams between 4A-6A, starting out with an overtime shootout win over 4A Tooele, 1-1 (4-3 shootout), then posting convincing wins over 6A Granger, 3-1, and 6A Cyprus, 8-0, then capping it off with a 4-0 victory over 5A Payson.
Manti’s first win, a nail biter over Tooele, was “exactly what we needed,” Bridges said. The victory showcased the likelihood of the Templars getting back to the 3A championship game in Bridges’ first year. This is despite being ranked No. 5 in the Deseret News preseason 3A rankings, their lowest in a few years. It was actually Tooele who got the first goal on the board, but Manti scored their regulation goal within two minutes of that to tie things up until the end.
“I was really proud of the girls to get that goal back within two minutes,” Bridges said. “Then, to be able to deal with all of the pressure of a first game of the season and to hold strong and give themselves a chance to win was amazing. We’ve told the girls that a time will come when a game will come to a shootout and have asked them to work on their penalty kicks. That hard work really paid off.”
Senior Breanne Wayman, one of only four seniors on the roster, scored the lone goal for Manti against the Buffaloes.
After their first win, the Lady Templars surged through a pair of 6A opponents. Sophomore Kaylee Parry became the first of the 2024 class to score a goal for the Templars with a score against Granger, while junior Morgan Chidester scored her fourth career goal and first for the 2023 class of this season.
Cyprus proved no match for Manti as the Templars went up 7-0 by the end of the first half. Parry and Wayman scored two goals apiece as six different Templars found the back of the net. Junior goalkeeper Brynlee Wathen recorded her first shutout of the season.
Manti took control of Payson early as well with a 2-0 halftime lead. Four different Templars scored a goal apiece for Manti, and Wayman continued her streak of at least one goal in every game.
Bridges is no stranger to the Manti program, having been heavily involved with soccer in the county for the last nine years as one of the founders of the Manti United Soccer Club. Bridges knows firsthand that much of his team this year has been kicking the ball to each other since they were 10 years old. “I was lucky enough to be able to coach nearly all of these girls back in their club days, so we didn’t have to get to know each other all over again,” Bridges said.
Manti continues their season against 5A Box Elder this Tuesday before their first 3A game against Carbon at home on Friday.
They’ll then be up against 5A Spanish Fork at home the following Tuesday.
This story was updated to replace the associated preview image. The original image was the North Sanpete Hawks logo, not the Manti Templars logo. (08/24/2021, 12:43pm)