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Let Jack Cook: Syracuse soccer forward’s hat trick sends Titans to first title game

By Patrick Carr - Prep Sports Reporter | May 23, 2023

Jared Lloyd, Daily Herald

Syracuse High boys soccer players Andrick Villafana (left, 20) and Easton Cragun (right, 16) defend Lone Peak's Cole Shin during the 6A boys soccer state semifinals on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman.

HERRIMAN — Four of the top five seeds in this year’s 6A boys soccer state tournament were from Northern Utah, with three Region 1 teams — Davis, Fremont and Farmington — and Roy.

Yet it’s the No. 12 seed, the fourth-place team in Region 1, the team with a previously leaky defense, that is the last one standing.

Senior forward Jack Cook scored a hat trick and No. 12 Syracuse boys soccer thrashed No. 1 and previously unbeaten Lone Peak 4-1 in Tuesday’s state semifinal at Zions Bank Stadium.

“Syracuse got fight, man. We’re a 12-seed, we got no pressure on us to win games, so that just gives us the opportunity to go out there and ball,” Cook said. “There’s no pressure for us to win at all, just go out there to play freely while a 17-0 team has everything to lose, it’s a lot easier to play.”

Cook equalized in the first half with an open-netter after the Lone Peak (17-1) keeper spilled a loose ball. Eighteen seconds after the second-half kickoff, Cook smashed a half-volley in for a 2-1 lead after a cross into the box.

A few minutes later, Cook picked a defender’s pocket on the left side to set up a one-on-one chance. His curling shot found the goalkeeper’s fingertips but still snuck in at the back post.

“Dude, I’ve been waiting for that game for years from Jack, right?” Syracuse coach Taylor Allen said. “Jack’s had it in him all along and at times you need great players to play great and today, Jack played great and put the team on his back, and got some tough goals.”

Syracuse goalkeeper Ty Richardson made the save of the match in the 67th minute, stopping a point-blank shot that was surely about to make the score 3-2.

All told, the Titans’ defense allowed Lone Peak’s 3.2-goals-per-game offense to just one after the Titans (12-7) themselves had allowed 1.6 goals per game all season long coming in.

“Give those back dudes and the keeper a lot of damn credit, they’ve grown the most in four months by far. Our offense has always been potent and explosive, and look at those Fremont games where we got scored on 12 times in two games, good hell,” Allen said. “Lone Peak on film by far was the most explosive and dynamic team we’ve seen this year, and the defense did a hell of a job, they really did.  They did incredible.”

For good measure, Easton Cragun scored on a hard and low shot in the 79th minute to ice the game after Syracuse pressured the ball and won it in Lone Peak’s half. Pressure was a constant theme for the Titans, according to Cook.

“A lot of teams don’t press them so we decided to flip it and go completely different than what we used to go. Totally pressed the crap out of them and it worked out,” Cook said.

Two days after playing in its first boys soccer semifinal in school history, Syracuse will play in its first title game in school history Thursday at America First Field (formerly Rio Tinto Stadium) at 5 p.m.

“So happy right now. We’re not done yet though, so I can’t be too happy. One more game to go finish and get a chip,” Cook said.

It will again be against a better-seeded team, which hasn’t yet bothered the Titans. They’ve beaten No. 5 Roy, No. 4 Farmington and now No. 1 Lone Peak in these playoffs already.

“They just keep playing with house money, man. They’re playing as a unit and we’re really excited. It’s nice to play games you’re not nervous in, so the pressure’s on everybody else and not on the 12-seed,” Allen said.

Connect with reporter Patrick Carr via email at pcarr@standard.net, Twitter @patrickcarr_ and Instagram @standardexaminersports.


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