SANDY — Patience, patience, patience. That was the message to Morgan’s players ahead of Monday’s 3A state championship against Manti and throughout the first half as well.

Coach Bryan Searle fully expected Manti to sit deep and defend — which it did — but he told his players as long as they kept pushing and creating chances eventually one of them would find the back of the net.

One eventually did via a penalty kick just before halftime, and Morgan rode the momentum throughout the second half on its way to a 3-1 victory to capture its third 3A state title in the past four years.

“Feels wonderful, the girls have really pushed themselves over the last several weeks to this point. Their determination, their desire, their camaraderie has just completely strengthened in the last three weeks that brought us to this level,” said Searle.

Manti was the defending 3A state champion after beating Judge Memorial in last year’s final, but Morgan beat Manti 2-1 back in the preseason and believed it had the edge in quality to repeat that performance at Rio Tinto Stadium.

It required a little patience, but Morgan was just fine with that.

Morgan was on the front foot the entire first half, with most of its shots coming from long-range that Manti keeper Katie Larsen easily corralled. Most of the shots were hit straight at Larsen, but the players believed they’d eventually get one or two past her.

“We were passing so good and we all knew it was coming, so we just had to stay patient with ourselves and not get down,” said Morgan’s Capri Jones.

In the 40th minute Morgan was finally rewarded for all that pressure as the ref pointed to the spot after a Manti defender crashed into a Morgan player in the box. Jones stepped up a bit nervously, but still buried the penalty kick for the 1-0 lead just before halftime.

“I was really nervous that I was going to mess it up, but we practiced them a lot and I knew my spot, so just did my routine and kicked it in,” said Jones.

In the 56th minute Morgan pushed the lead to 2-0 as Jones’ sister Jayda Jones finished a quality build-up for a critical insurance goal.

That goal proved to be even more important when Manti was awarded a penalty kick in the 68th minute, with Allie Bridges calmly stepping up and burying her 10th goal of the season to cut the deficit in half.

Any pressure that Morgan might’ve felt over the final 10 minutes disappeared quickly though as two minutes after Manti’s goal, Morgan’s Brooklyn Peterson found space just inside the box and used her left foot to loft a shot past the keeper for the 3-1 lead.

It was a cushion that the Trojans easily closed out to return to the top of the 3A soccer mountain after a one-year hiatus.

Morgan’s biggest hurdle likely came in the semifinals a few nights earlier as it beat Judge Memorial in overtime after losing to the Bulldogs twice during the regular season.