Sunday , July 08, 2018 - 5:30 AM
MORGAN — The last time Morgan High’s boys soccer team won a state championship, the Trojans were a 2A school in the early 1990s.
Jared Andersen, the current head coach at Morgan, remembers it well. He played on the 1991 championship-winning team, the first soccer title in the school’s history and the first of back-to-back championships, the only two times the Trojans have hoisted the winner’s trophy.
Morgan was close this year, losing to the high-powered Judge Memorial 1-0 in the 3A final on a golden goal. It was a heartbreaking ending to a season that seemed destined to come down to a thrilling penalty shootout.
Take the last 10 seasons into account to see why this year’s Trojans team accomplished a lot despite not raising the championship trophy, and why Andersen is the Standard-Examiner All-Area Boys Soccer Coach of the Year.
BOYS SOCCER ALL-AREA
In 2017 they went 5-11 overall. The year before, they were 4-9-1. In 2015, they finished 2-10-1.
This season’s mark of 11-8-1 was Morgan’s first winning record since 2008 when the Trojans went to the state championship game — a team also undone by Judge in a 1-0 affair.
“Last year, we only won one region game. So to have kind of the same team, just more mature and going from winning one game in region to going to the state championship is a phenomenal turnaround,” Andersen said.
Andersen knew what a deep playoff run would require, having won a state title as a player. He saw something in this year’s Morgan team, a stalwart defensive team with several key seniors, that reminded him of the 1991 team.
“The similarity I saw was that they trusted in how they played and they had a belief that they could beat any team,” he said.
That group of seniors Andersen says was so critical to the team’s success this year included goalkeeper Trek Loveridge, midfielders Breckyn Bond and Cam Winn, and defenders Broc Matthews, Cole Niederhauser and Cole Jones.
Loveridge led 3A with eight shutouts this year, which was third in the entire state. Carson Flitton was second on the team with 10 goals, behind Inigo Polo Lopez’s team-high of 14. Bond and Winn held down a midfield that routinely swatted away opposing attacks.
Realignment helped level Morgan’s playing field, admittedly. Instead of playing much bigger schools such as Ridgeline, Logan and Bear River in region play (all three schools are in 4A now), the Trojans lined up with schools similar to their size like Grantsville and Summit Academy.
Morgan played almost exclusively against bigger schools in non-region play, winning some and losing others by close scorelines. The Trojans beat Cedar (4A) 2-0 in the opener and Hurricane (4A) 8-0 just two days later.
Andersen says the moment that validated his team’s aspirations came March 23 when, down two starters, Morgan edged out a 1-0 victory over East (5A).
“The two things that I stressed the boys throughout the year were attitude and skill. We had to have a group of players that wanted to be there and wanted to be teammates for each other. Period,” Andersen said. “If the attitude was not there, they didn’t play or were cut.”
The attitude carried into the state tournament, where the Trojans shut out their first two foes Grand and Carbon.
Then they held on to a 3-2 win in the semifinals against American Leadership before matching up with Judge, their new region foe who had beaten them twice in the regular season.
Judge — one of the highest scoring teams in the state — had scored four goals in both region meetings with Morgan, but the Trojans defense held firm in the epic season finale.
Andersen was thinking about who would take penalties for Morgan when Judge’s Joseph Paul scored to end the game and stun the Trojan faithful.
“I want the boys to love the sport and I couldn’t be more proud for how hard they fought. I don’t even know what more to say,” Andersen said.
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