OGDEN — Time after time, the Jayhawks kept creating quality scoring chances for themselves. Problem was, though, they just kept missing them.
Throughout the entire first half of Saturday's 2A quarterfinal clash with Layton Christian Academy, the St. Joseph High School boys soccer team repeatedly put itself in position to light up the scoreboard. But the ball kept clanging off the post, bouncing off the crossbar or barely soaring over it.
However, after the two teams played to a scoreless first-half standoff, Jayhawks junior Keyanu Tate launched a laser from just outside the 18-yard box in the opening minute of the second half.
Like so many of their first-half scoring attempts, Tate's shot ricocheted off the right post. But this time, the ball bounded into the net for the game's only goal in an eventual 1-0 victory that sends 2A Central champion St. Joe (12-1-3 overall) into the state semifinals for the fifth time in six years.
"Came through at the right time, I guess," Tate said of the game's only goal. "It was just outside the 18, a little bit off-center on the left side. I just took a touch around the guy and I saw the opening, so I decided to go for it. It felt really good.
"Right at the half, I was feeling good and I told my teammate, 'I'm gonna score right here. I just know it.' And sure enough, it happened. It was a pretty cool experience. I felt really good and I'm just like, 'Right here, this half, I'm gonna come out strong.' I did what I needed to do and I'm pleased it turned out the way it did."
In all, the Jayhawks had at least a dozen great opportunities to score, but Tate's second-half shot was the only one that found the back of the net.
In the first half, St. Joseph's Adam Brodstein banged a shot off the right post, had another attempt barely sail over the crossbar, and hit the post again — all in the first 25 minutes of the game. Later in the half, Brodstein's corner kick was deftly headed by teammate Oswald Cruz, but the ball struck the top of the crossbar and bounded away. And St. Joe's Jordan Jones had another quality scoring chance that bounced off the chest of LCA goalkeeper Berke Kalemotou.
"We saw a lot of that post today, that's for sure," Tate said with a smile. "Semifinal game coming up here soon, we've got to get our shots on target.
"Their goalie had a great game, but we were playing good, though. I thought we had some good passes out there and, come the second half, (the Eagles) seemed like they didn't have much energy left. We'd kind of run around the field. And that was our goal coming out here, just to see if we could run 'em out and then do what we needed to do. And we came through.
"We're doing good; we're just getting unlucky," Tate said. "But we're there. We're getting those opportunities in. I don't really know what else we can do better, you know, just get those shots on target and I think we'll get a better outcome than we've had the past few years. We're really hoping to not get upset this year."
Late in the first half, Jayhawks goalie Mitch Koehler stopped a point-blank shot by Layton Christian's Ricardo Gomez.
Then after Tate broke the scoreless deadlock early in the second half, Tate and Brodstein each sailed shots over the LCA crossbar; Conner Letendre's shot was saved by Kalemotou, and Pakuya Ishakawa skipped a shot into Kalemotou's waiting arms.
Layton Christian got its best scoring chance in the 66th minute when Gomez's rocket barely sailed over the crossbar, and Brodstein had a pair of attempts that did the same thing on the other end of the field.
Kalemotou came up with a couple of great saves on a pair of corner kicks by the Jayhawks to keep the Eagles within striking distance, but LCA (9-3-2) could never come up with the equalizer before time ran out.
"Even though we didn't put our chances away today," St. Joseph coach Derek Tate said, "I was really happy with the way they possessed and created the chances and held the ball most of the game. Some days they're just not gonna fall for you, and today was one of those days that the goals weren't falling. But we really didn't give them many chances at all today. I think we had 70-80 percent possession today, and I that was really a big key for us to go on.
"I think we've finally got our team healthy. We haven't been healthy all year, so we've finally got our team back to being healthy. J.J. (Jones) went down today but it was just a hip pointer, so he'll be back and he'll be fine next week. So it's nice that we got everyone together healthy for the first time this year.
"They play with a lot of heart," Tate said of Layton Christian. "They're a team that runs hard, pressures the ball and they really work hard. I think if we could've finished our chances, we would've made the score a little different. But I can't be upset with how we did. I've got to credit their goalie (Kalemotou); he made a couple of big saves on us. He probably kept the score two or three more off by himself."
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