GRANTSVILLE — The Stansbury Stallions traveled a few miles to Grantsville High School on Tuesday to face their Region 11 rivals.
They took care of business once they got there.
Ian Thompson recorded his sixth shutout of the season, and the Stallions handled the Cowboys 3-0.
Stansbury was already set to play No. 1-ranked Wasatch in the first round of the playoffs Thursday, and most of their key players either didn't see the field at all or played very limited minutes Tuesday.
"It was hard to get over this game," said Stansbury head coach Brandon Anderson. "They weren't that amped for this one because Thursday was all they could think about. They're definitely excited for that one."
Nonethess, they found ways to get the victory against their rivals.
"We still wanted to win, even though this game didn't really matter" said Jara Eshete, who scored his 10th goal of the season in the 78th minute. "But we knew we had to rest some of our key players and our starters."
Stansbury got things going in the 15th minute when Ernie Montes crossed it in to Darius Johnson to give the Stallions a 1-0 lead. Montes hustled to the ball as it was just about to go out of bounds and made a great pass to Johnson, who finished it easily.
The Stallions scored again just two minutes later when Josh Gallegos found the net on a free kick from 30 yards out to make it 2-0. Gallegos sent the ball to the front post, and bent it into the upper corner.
Neither team was able to find the net for the rest of the half, and the Stallions took a 2-0 lead into the intermission.
Stansbury controlled most of the second half, not giving the Cowboys many chances to score and possessing the ball for most of the half.
Stansbury had a a great chance to make it a 3-0 game in the 70th minute when Eshete took a free kick from just outside the box. Eshete sent the ball in, but goalkeeper Parker May was there to make the diving save, keeping the score 2-0.
Just eight minutes later, however, Eshete would redeem himself. The senior dribbled all the way through the Grantsville defense and found the net to make it a 3-0 final score.
Stansbury will play Wasatch on Thursday, and although the Wasps are 16-0 and considered by many as the best team in 3A, the Stallions don't feel as if they're completely overpowered.
"We're all going to play our hardest," said Eshete. "We beat a No. 1 seed last year. Anything could happen. I think if we can play our best soccer, we can win."
Coach Anderson feels the same way.1 comment on this story
"It doesn't make any difference to us if it's Wasatch or anybody else," said Anderson. "I think last year we demonstrated that we can walk in, hold our ground and control the game. I have no doubt that we can do what we did last year, and maybe even more."
Stansbury finishes the regular season with a 7-6 overall record and a 7-5 record in Region 11. Grantsville finishes the season 4-11 and 0-11 in Region 11.
CJ Pronk is a Deseret Digital Media intern and a senior at Stansbury High School. Follow CJ on Twitter @BigCeeJ3113