DRAPER — For the first time since 2012, the Olympus Titans are headed to the state championship game.
Olympus defeated Wasatch 3-2 Tuesday night at Juan Diego Catholic High School in the semifinals of the 5A state tournament to secure the team’s first title game berth since their state championship run seven years ago.
“I am really pleased with this team,” Olympus head coach Chris Sonntag said. “This group adapts to whatever people do. This is a mature group, an intelligent group and a very athletic group. We are to the point that people have to go through us.”
That included a Wasp team that gave the Titans everything they could handle and then some.
“You have to mention Wasatch,” said Sonntag. “I give so much credit to that team. I have never seen an offensive group quite like that.”
Leading the way, as he has all season long, was Vargas.
“They have that very talented No. 5 (Vargas) who was like their quarterback and they all knew what was coming," Sonntag said. "I give them all the respect in the world.”
The Wasatch attack was such that Olympus was on their heels to start the game, that is until they were able to adjust.
“Because of the way (Wasatch) was attacking, there was space available to use,” Sonntag said.
That space led to the game’s opening goal, courtesy of Czapla.
Midway through the first half, in the 25th minute, the senior beat Wasatch goalkeeper Carson Broadhead for the score.
Nearly 15 minutes later, Earl got in on the goal-scoring action, and his strike in the 33rd minute gave the Titans a commanding 2-0 heading into the half.
That is until Vargas pulled Wasatch within one goal with a minute remaining in the first frame, via a free kick.
Things settled down at first in the second half, with neither team doing much in the way of scoring, that is until Naylor broke free on the left side of the box for another Olympus score.
The 3-1 edge seemed more than enough for the Titans, though not as far as goalkeeper Ian Jones was concerned.
“As a goalie it sucks because my job is never done,” said Jones. “Even when we were up by two goals I still had a lot of pressure on me to not give the game up.”
The pressure increased after Bridge found the back of the net in the 69th minute, bringing the Wasps within striking distance.
From there, Wasatch dominated possession, with kick after kick after kick finding its way into the box, threatening the Olympus lead.
“That last little stretch, we gave up a lot of fouls and they were kicking them in,” said Jones.
Over the final 15 minutes of the game, it seemed a near certainty that the Wasps would tie things up, but each and every shot attempt was sent away, either by Jones or one of the defensive backs on the Titan’s back line.
“Our defense has really been good all year long,” said Sonntag. “We are deep and everyone we roll in, we don’t lose a step with.”
“We are tough,” Jones added. “We do our stuff and the offense takes care of the rest.”
Jones credited his back line, including Logan Davies, for their play in the final moments of the game.
“We have such good defenders and they were back there covering me as much as I covered them,” he said.1 comment on this story
“Ian was right to give them credit,” added Sonntag, “and he deserves all the credit in the world. We have had some tremendous goalkeepers at Olympus and Ian is one of the best, but you can have the best goalkeeper in the world and if you don’t have a back line that is doing their job you’re not going to win. These guys were winning balls in the air, doing everything possible to give us the win.”
“We have played together, nine or 10 of us, since we were 10,” Jones said. “We have wanted this since we were little. The past three years we had some unfortunate luck in the playoffs, but this year we came together at the beginning and said this is our year. We have one more chance to bring it home.”
The Titans will battle the Brighton Bengals in the state title game on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium.