FARMINGTON — After battling against a blustery blast in the first half Saturday, it was when Morgan High boys soccer finally got to play with the wind that it came out of the Trojans’ sails.
Five minutes into the second half, Park City slotted in a goal near post then, one minute later, found the net from close range to defeat Morgan 3-1 in the Graduation Cup final for the Circumstance division held at Legacy Events Center in Farmington.
Morgan’s lone goal came in the 79th minute when senior Sloan Calder punched in a cross from fellow senior Jacob Firby.
The loss was the first and only defeat for Morgan boys soccer this season. The Trojans were expected to make another deep playoff run and were 4-0 (with a goal differential of 18-0) for the 2020 high school season before it was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I was devastated when our season was taken away, so as soon as I heard about this I was going to get my coach to do anything to get into this tournament,” said Calder, who scored nine goals in this week’s event. “We did a lot better than people expected us to, got to the final, played as a team and that’s all you can ask for.”
As pandemic restrictions eased up, the Graduation Cup came together to help boys soccer teams and seniors, especially, get one last chance to take the field. Westlake High won the 16-team Pomp division while Morgan, the only 3A team in the 28-team event, fell to Park City in the 12-team Circumstance division final.
Morgan bested 5A Maple Mountain 3-2 and 5A Timpview 6-1 in pool play, then took down 5A Hillcrest 2-1 in the quarterfinals before battling 4A Ogden to a 4-3 victory in Friday’s semifinals.
“We’re playing 4A and 5A schools and we’re a 3A school … we’re coming out here and destroying these bigger schools,” senior Eli Loveridge said. “Even though we didn’t win today, I’m proud with how we played and we were able to perform.”
Loveridge just missed a deep, bending try at the top corner from at least 30 yards out in the 15th minute and Firby was just wide on the near post after winning possession from about 18 yards out in the 18th minute, representing Morgan’s best scoring chances in the first half.
Mason Pocus kept a strong goal in the first half while Park City used the wind to keep a majority of the possession. Then, in the 35th minute, a Miner lofted in a deep goal from 25 yards on an angle, just dropping in over his head.
The Trojans had nearly three months off before playing five games in six days this week.
“We conditioned really hard at the beginning of the season. So even though we took a couple months off, we came out and were still more fit than anyone else out there,” Firby said. “That’s one of the reasons, as a smaller school, we were able to take on these big schools. All the conditioning we did before still ended up being a benefit in the end.”
Firby echoed a sentiment common among Morgan seniors: that the Trojans took advantage of an opportunity to showcase what soccer looks like from their corner of the state.
“Even though we didn’t take the win today, we made a name for ourselves, for Morgan,” Firby said. “Every game for this tournament, we were asked ‘where’s Morgan?’ No one knew who we were. Now, I feel like people will say ‘these guys can play soccer.’”
Senior Bryant Johnson said he was proud of his team’s ability to compete hard and remain respectful of opponents, even when things got chippy.
“Coaches, when they talked to us, they all said they were proud of us, they respected us. Even though we didn’t win today, taking second place in this championship was huge for us. It felt good,” Johnson said.