I am just proud of my boys. We gave up a goal in the first minute of the game. To come back from that, to have the shots that we had... I am so proud of them. —Morgan head coach Jared Anderson
SANDY — Less than a minute into their 3A boys soccer semifinal contest against the American Leadership Academy Eagles Thursday night at Alta High School, the Morgan Trojans found themselves in trouble.
The Eagles had scored a goal, almost as if before the opening kickoff. ALA junior Joseph Valle found the back of the net on the first possession of the game, shocking the Trojans, their faithful in the stands and most stunningly stalwart keeper Trek Loveridge.
Loveridge, after all, had been one of the best goalies in the state and was tied for the most shutouts by a keeper heading into the game.
On Valle’s shot, however, he didn’t move. He didn’t even see it.
At that point, the Trojans could have panicked. They could have packed up and gone home, and avoided a wet and chilly night in Sandy.
Instead, they rallied, scoring goals in the fourth, 16th and 23rd minutes of the first half before holding off the Eagles for a 3-2 victory.
“I am just proud of my boys,” Morgan head coach Jared Anderson said. “We gave up a goal in the first minute of the game. To come back from that, to have the shots that we had I am so proud of them.”
“This is one of the greatest victories we have ever had,” Trojan forward Ingio Polo said. “We never gave up. That is our motto, never give up. We have trained so hard every day and I think this is just the second time in 25 years that Morgan High School has gone to the state. It is an honor for me to be on this team.”
Polo was instrumental in the victory, as he scored two of the Trojans three goals. The first came in the fourth minute when he deftly drove a through pass from Cameron Winn into the back of the net.
“I got a really nice pass from Cameron, our captain, and I just put the ball inside the right post,” said Polo.
A few minutes later Polo gave the Trojans the lead, a lead they wouldn’t surrender, when he avoided ALA keeper Abdi Ochoa in the box.
“I went for the ball and didn’t give up. It worked out,” said Polo.
After Bond’s score it seemed as though the Trojans would run away with the contest, straight to Zions Bank Stadium where they will play the Judge Memorial Bulldogs for the state title, Saturday afternoon.
Instead, the Eagles battled back and, for much of the second half, they had Morgan looking uncomfortable.
When Valle netted his second score, on a free kick just outside the box, it seemed that ALA was primed to go on a game-changing run of their own.
“We allowed them to possess longer. We shouldn’t have allowed them to do that,” said Anderson. “We should have got the ball to our feet more, get it off our feet quicker. We allowed them to possess.
“It doesn’t matter what team we play, we have to be at our best. If we are not at our best in the playoffs any team can win.”
The Eagles had a few opportunities to tie the game at three goals apiece, but it was there that Loveridge redeemed himself. The keeper made a pair of stunning saves late in the second half, shutting down any rally.
“Trek is a phenomenal keeper, a senior,” Anderson said. “I don’t know what else more to say about him.”
The Trojans will need Loveridge, Polo and the rest of their team at the top of their game Saturday when they face the Judge Memorial Bulldogs.
The teams have already met this season, twice in fact, and both times the Bulldogs were triumphant.
Nevertheless, the Trojans are confident.
“They are amazing,” Polo said of the Bulldogs, “but I think we can beat them. The first time we played them we only lost by one, after all. We are going to give a hundred percent.”
“They are a phenomenal team,” Anderson added, “but if we play our best game we can beat them. We just have to go out there and play our best game.”