OGDEN — It was the tale of two halves Saturday, as first-year team Manti controlled most of the second half, while St. Joseph absolutely dominated the first to grab the 3-1 win and advance to the 2A soccer semifinals.
"I am very happy with this game," Manti head coach Gerald Wayman said of his team's first trip to the quarterfinals. "They are the better team, but we were able to play with them."
Playing without star forward Eduardo Nava, the Templars couldn't get much started on offense in the first half. Most of Manti's scoring opportunities came off of long cleared passes, whereas most of the Jayhawks chances came from set offense or ball control on their half of the field.
"I thought we had a great first 20 minutes and didn't play well after," St. Joseph head coach Derek Tate said. "It was very frustrating."
In those first 20 minutes, the Jayhawks capitalized on scoring opportunities with two goals.
St. Joe captain Ben Cilwick netted the first goal for the Jayhawks. Cilwick picked up the ball off of an excellent defense block on a cross, dribbled through two defenders and picked the right corner from the left side for the score.
Freshman Dino Soto scored the second St. Joe goal just minutes later when he kicked the ball from just inside the right corner of the goal box and it bounced right over Manti goalie Boone Arnoldsen's outstretched arms into the left corner of the goal.
In was the reverse situation in the second half, as the Templars really settled into offense and got a variety of better attempts at the goal, while the Jayhawks started playing more of a defensive ball game.
After several aggressive hustle plays, Manti finally got on the board when Evan Whipple crossed the ball to an open Kenny Squire who put the ball in past St. Joseph goalie Mark Howerton. Howerton was hit with the brunt of St. Joe's lapsed offense, but was able to disrupt and block several good Manti shot attempts to keep the Jayhawks ahead.
"We stopped playing our game in the second half," Howerton said. "We just went to a kick and run type of game and it let them get some open shots."
"Mark is special people," Tate said. "He's started every game since his freshman year and he is just so consistent for us."
Although the Templars played even more aggressively following Squire's goal, St. Joe's Soto was able to put in his second goal of the game off a penalty kick just outside the box to put the game away for good. Soto's kick, one of the best of the day, sailed just over the lined up defenders' heads and past the diving goalie.
"I think we played really well, but had trouble finding the back of the net," Cilwick said. "We're at full strength and doing good and after we rest we'll be able to pick it up and play hard again next week."
St. Joseph will meet South Summit in the semifinals this Friday at Timpview High. The two teams split wins during the regular season.