WOODS CROSS — The Woods Cross Wildcats set an early tone with aggressive play in the offensive end during Friday's 4A quarterfinal soccer state playoff match.
But it was the Wildcats' second-half defense that sparked them to a 2-1 victory over Mountain Crest.
As hard as Woods Cross attacked in the scoreless opening half — in which the Wildcats spent most of the time on the offensive side of the field — the Mustangs looked to apply some pressure early in the second.
"We had to soak up some pressure there, and that's where the defense steps up," said Wildcat coach Kevin Rigby.
And two defensive plays turned the tide Woods Cross' way.
Mountain Crest's Dillan Mathys was chasing down a midfield kick and seemed to have a good angle toward the goal, but Woods Cross keeper Truman Ballard took a chance by running out toward it. Ballard beat Mathys to the ball and booted it back toward the other end.
Shortly thereafter, Wildcat fullback Taylor Elge got the ball just inside midfield, took it down the sideline, maneuvered through two Mustang defenders and hit a cross that Leo Calquin headed into the net to give Woods Cross a 1-0 lead in the 46th minute of play.
"I could see (Elge) looking up for help and no help came," Rigby said. "If he hadn't had the guts to make that run, then that was no goal."
Rigby added, "If Leo's in front of the net and has half a notion, he's real trouble."
"I just waited for it 'cause I knew it was coming for me," Calquin said.
Ten minutes later, Mountain Crest's Jacob Worley had the ball near the Woods Cross net, but his pathway wasn't as easy as Elge's. The Wildcats' Mike Kelly and Steven Sperry teamed up to take it away from Worley, and Sperry sent it back down the sideline.
Luis Calquin got control of the ball just past midfield, and he continued the ball's sideline path by finding Payton Holt just ahead of his defender.
Holt took it all the way in and knocked it past Mustang keeper Jon Maughan into the left side of the net, and Woods Cross had a 2-0 advantage.
It was then up to the Wildcat defense to preserve that lead, and Mountain Crest certainly put Woods Cross up to the test. The Mustangs had some good scoring chances, but Ballard stood firm, stopping a shot by Jared Powell, and Woods Cross' Troy Perry knocked the ball away from Worley to end another threat.
Mountain Crest got on the board in the 76th minute when Ryan Van der Kuyl buried a free kick off a Woods Cross handball. Van der Kuyl had another good look from 20 yards out a couple of minutes later, but it went just over the crossbar. Jaycson Yeates also had a chance with a blast from about 15 yards, but it also was just too high.
Woods Cross moves on to play Lehi in the semifinals Tuesday at Viewmont High.