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High school soccer: Morgan and Ogden hope 3rd time the charm as the region rivals advance to 3A championship

Morgan and RSL Academy play in the 3A girls soccer semifinals in Sandy on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021. Morgan won 2-1.
Morgan and RSL Academy play in the 3A girls soccer semifinals in Sandy on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021. Morgan won 2-1.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Back in August when the girls soccer season kicked off, Morgan coach Bryan Searle didn’t hesitate to declare that Ogden was the new 3A team to beat. Never mind that his team was the two-time defending state champs, he said that with a talented Ogden squad dropping down from 4A, they immediately became the new favorite.

The debate will be answered once and for all in Saturday’s 3A state championship.

Morgan and Ogden both won their semifinal games at Jordan High School on Thursday evening to advance to Saturday’s title game at 2 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium.

“Like I said from the very first of the year, Ogden High is the team to beat,” said Searle.

That notion wasn’t so cut and dry during region play as the teams split the season series with the home team winning by one goal each time.

Ogden coach Ryan Robinson said playing Canyon View in the semifinals on Thursday was great preparation for Morgan as both teams are hardworking teams. What separates Morgan is their athleticism up top, and that’s something that Ogden will know to expect.

In the semifinals, Ogden had the easier path to the title game on Thursday as it topped Canyon View 3-0.

Late in the first half Tori Kalista tapped in a cross from Ruth Larsen to put Ogden ahead 1-0, and then early in the second half Larsen again delivered a cross into the box that Grace Pulley buried into the open net for the 2-0 lead as Canyon View’s goalie was caught out of position.

In the 67th minute Larsen capped the scoring by tapping in a breakaway shot that put the Tigers ahead 3-0.

“We are just absolutely stoked to go back to the finals. We’re always trying to get back to Rio Tinto,” said Larsen.

While Ogden eased its way into the championship in the later stages of its semifinal, Morgan barely hung on to beat Real Salt Lake Academy 2-1 after RSL missed a penalty kick in the final two minutes.

For the Trojans, it’s back in the final for the fourth time in the past five years, having prevailed in each of its previous three appearances.

It will rely on its third-string keeper in Saturday’s final, but Miya Turner proved in the semifinals that she’s more than capable when the varsity regulars are unavailable because of injury.

After Morgan went ahead 2-0 early in the second half, RSL had the Trojans on their heels for much of the second half, and it was Turner who had to deal with much of the pressure.

RSL did slip one past her in the 62nd minute on a Taija Anderson goal, but that was the only blemish for Turner who cleaned up everything else in the box.

“I’m not gonna lie, I was really nervous. I’ve been stressing about it ever since our starting keeper was out, but I knew if the team came together it would all work out,” said Turner.

Turner got a helping hand from the crossbar late in the match when RSL smashed a penalty kick off the cross bar in the 78th minute that would’ve equalized.

Turner, who had surgery on her appendix a couple of weeks ago, said she just tried to stay big and intimidate the shooter as best she could.

Through the first 45 minutes Thursday, Morgan was in control and seemed poised for its own comfortable semifinal victory.

It started with a long-range rocket from Aspen Telford just five minutes into the match, and then Brecklee Charlton doubled the advantage as she tapped in a rebound shot in the 43rd minute for the 2-0 lead.

Morgan coach Bryan Searle knew looks were deceiving. RSL made some tactical and formation changes late in the first half, and his team was struggling to adjust properly throughout the second half.

Thanks to Turner’s positioning in goal, Morgan’s occasional struggles in the second half weren’t costly.