Links to 2018 girls soccer All-Area teams and stories are below this story.MORGAN — Morgan High girls soccer didn’t have many returning starters from 2017’s state championship team.
So when one of them tore her ACL in tryouts and the other broke her ankle a week into the season, the Trojans’ outlook was foggy.
The injuries forced them to tinker with their lineup.
All. Season. Long.
On the surface, a soccer team that’s still rotating its starting lineup and formation in the middle of a league campaign doesn’t have the look of a state champion. Especially when that same team regularly played eight or nine freshmen.
As the old sports cliche goes, you want to be playing your best at the end of the season. You want to peak at the right time, ideally the postseason.
Bryan Searle, a longtime soccer coach at the club level and the fifth-year coach of the Morgan Trojans, got his team to peak at the right time in 2018.
The Trojans finished second in Region 13, losing twice to Judge Memorial. Then they beat Judge 1-0 in the state championship game for the second straight season when a freshman, Sadie McGreer, slotted home a penalty kick.
Searle is the 2018 Standard-Examiner All-Area Girls Soccer Coach of the Year.
The best part about winning two state championships in a row was seeing how happy the players were, he said.
“It’s a great thing to see the kids happy and what they worked for all year long because it’s not easy to play for me. I’ll be the first one to admit. And we push ‘em and push ‘em, so I think it’s a great reward for them,” Searle said.
McGreer was one of that number of freshmen who started most of the season. But a freshman taking a deciding penalty kick in a state title game?
The decision for McGreer, instead of senior forward Syd Cragun, to take the penalty kick was made months before the 3A championship game.
“She went up there, placed the ball right where it was supposed to be, I mean, just with confidence, it was actually a great shot,” Searle said.
Earlier in the season, the Trojans had a penalty kick and nobody stepped up to take it. The coaches addressed it in practice the next day.
“We talked about it and said I don’t care if you’re nervous or scared to have to show confidence, and so I don’t care who takes the next kick,” Searle said.
A couple games later, Morgan had a penalty kick. The coaches stood back and observed, waiting to see who would take the kick.
It was McGreer.
Searle, a Bonneville High and Weber State alumnus, observes plenty of ups and downs working in cardiology at McKay-Dee Hospital.
The Trojans had their ups and downs this season: two starters lost for the season barely after it starts, respectable results against tough non-region foes early on, a 5-2 loss to Judge Memorial in region play — and then a state championship.
The 5-2 loss to Judge, where the Bulldogs scored five unanswered goals, formed the basis of what the Trojans worked on before the state tournament.
“We showed them both games (against Judge), we had a fair amount of turnovers,” Searle said.
“And so we told them we have to get better.”
They did. At just the right time.