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High school boys soccer: Maple Mountain gets redemption against Wasatch with 7th straight victory

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Maple Mountain goalie Isaac Northcutt makes a save against Wasatch in Spanish Fork on Thursday, April 29, 2021.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

A month ago, Maple Mountain’s boys soccer team made the trek up Provo Canyon to face top-ranked Wasatch excited for the opportunity to prove itself. It returned home embarrassed.

“We really got embarrassed. It wasn’t competitive at all,” said Maple Mountain coach Larry Cullum about that March 30 night.

As it turns out, that loss was the exact wake-up call Cullum’s team needed. Maple Mountain hasn’t lost since that game, which included a 2-0 revenge victory over visiting Wasatch on Thursday for its seventh-straight victory.

The shutout was also the Golden Eagles’ fourth during the stretch as they continue to hit their stride with one more week remaining in the regular season.

“We’ve utilized that loss as our motivation to get ourselves more organized, get our guys in the right positions, and get them playing at a higher level. And they believe now, they believe in each other, they play for each other,” said Cullum.

With the win, Maple Mountain has moved up into the top three in the 5A RPI rankings. It still trails Wasatch by one game in the Region 8 standings, which means a region title is unlikely, but it is certainly going to be one of the favorites in the state tournament next month.

“We learned a lot in this game, we learned a lot about ourselves, and we’re hoping it carries us through,” said Cullum.

In the previous meeting between the teams, Maple Mountain fell behind early and never recovered in the 3-0 loss. It returned the favor striking first in the 15th minute on a perfectly placed strike from Seth Krommenhoek after he slipped past the sliding challenge of a Wasatch defender.

Despite the difficult angle, Krommenhoek slipped it past the keeper for the 1-0 lead.

Krommenhoek and Brian Bess each had a chance to double the lead before halftime, and despite those misses Maple Mountain came off the field extremely confident about their first-half performance.

“Regardless of who you’re playing, that first goal is always big because it allows you to relax a little bit, it allows you to believe in what you’re doing out there, it reinforces everything, and re-energizes you,” said Cullum.

Nine minutes into the second half, Maple Mountain finally secured that much-desired insurance goal against Wasatch’s dynamic attack as Eric Tietjen ripped on a curling shot from distance around the keeper and into the upper right corner of the net.

The Golden Eagles were strong defensively, protecting the 2-0 lead over the final 30 minutes, with Cullum praising the defending of center backs Addison Allen and Kyler Mercado, with Isaac Northcutt earning the shutout.

“I like the communication, I like the way we’re protecting the middle, I like the way we’re getting goal side. One of the things that we struggled on early in the season was the set plays and allowing people to get behind us,” said Cullum.

Maple Mountain suffered a couple of potential lingering injuries to key starters during the match, but it’s playing with a ton of confidence right now and Cullum is excited to see how the team builds on the victory over its final two region games.