MORGAN — Rio Tinto, the home of Real Salt Lake and the site of playing for a state championship, is the preseason goal of almost every high school soccer team in Utah.
That goal is well within grasp now of the Morgan Trojans.
Led by an outstanding performance by their midfield, as well as the scoring of forward Logan Duran (a team-high two goals), the Trojans handily defeated the Juab Wasps 4-0 in the 3A quarterfinals match Saturday afternoon at Morgan High School.
The win, the 13th of the season for Morgan, has the Trojans in the semifinals for the first time under the current coaching regime and just one game away from Rio Tinto.
“We have worked for this since we were 7,” said Morgan midfielder Heather Moore. “This is it. This is what we have been working for, and we look forward to being at Rio Tinto.”
“We’ve never been (to the semifinals),” added Trojan head coach Bryan Searle. “It’s great for the program. We told the girls at the beginning of the season that they represent more than just themselves. They play for themselves, but also for their family, their school and the community For them to continue to do as good as they have is a big life lesson for them.”
From the outset of Saturday’s contest, it was clear that Morgan was in a class above its opponents. The reason was the Trojan midfield.
“It’s a good midfield, led by three seniors who are experienced players,” said Searle. “They have played a lot of soccer and have done well all year long. They have been our most consistent group.”
That consistency shone through time and time again as the Trojans rarely let the Wasps cross midfield. After two early shot attempts by Juab, five minutes in and courtesy of Alexa Walker and Chantelle Taylor, Morgan didn’t allow another shot attempt until three minutes left in the first half.
“The midfield is very important. If you don’t have a midfield you don’t have anything else,” said Moore. “We just don’t let anything through.”
While the Trojan midfield shut down the Wasps, the Trojan attack lit them up. Duran netted two first-half goals, one on a corner kick and the other on a breakaway. Both times Juab keeper Lilli Reese didn’t stand a chance.
“She gives confidence to everyone because the girls know wherever they put the ball (Logan) can go get it,” said Searle. “She has turned into such an unselfish player, and picks the right time to shoot and the right time to pass.”
“It hits you in the feel-goods,” said Duran. “Every year since we were freshmen, we have been knocked out in (the quarterfinals). We finally did it.”
“Hard work pays off,” added Moore.
The Trojans and their fans can only hope it continues to pay off as the team is set to battle the top-ranked Manti Templars Friday, Oct. 20, at Jordan High School for a spot in the 3A state championship.