DRAPER — The secret of Morgan's boys soccer program in 2021 — if you can call it a secret — is that the Trojans like to score, and score early.
If the No. 1 seed in the Class 3A state tournament doesn't score in the first five minutes, they might think something is wrong. And if that's the case, something was probably wrong for the first 15 minutes of the Trojans' tilt Monday.
That is, until sophomore Rory Williams took the top off the match.
Williams broke the ice in the first half, and Cole Terry, Isaac Lowder and Owen Tolman each added a second-half strike to help Morgan pull away from upstart Emery, 4-0, in the semifinals of the 3A tournament Monday at Juan Diego Catholic High School.
"That first goal is always a big boost for us. It takes off a lot of pressure," Morgan coach Seth Wallace said. "But especially that one; that kid has been out for three weeks with COVID; that was his first goal in quite a while. It was good to have him back on the scoresheet.
"But that first goal is always huge. … I've got to give it up to Emery. They really battled us, and were winning 50-50 balls in the first half, which we had to change."
Tanner Stanley made two saves to earn the shutout for the top-seeded Trojans (14-3), who carry an 11-game winning streak into the 3A title match Tuesday at Rio Tinto Stadium (4 p.m. MT).
The Trojans (14-3) will play in their first title tilt since 2018, when the 3A championship was temporarily relocated to Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman. Chase Lane, a senior with six goals and seven assists on the year, played in that match, when Judge Memorial outlasted the Trojans 1-0 in extra time.
Most of the senior class, who play regularly on the top club team in Morgan County, was also at that match, though they were sitting in the stands or on the bench. Wallace was an assistant on the team, and added the group remembers well what happened that windy evening on the hard turf of Real Monarchs' home venue.
"They know what that pressure is like, when we played Judge in 2018," Wallace said. "We're just excited to have the opportunity to be there. It's a beautiful field, and we play better on grass. We're excited for the opportunity to play on a professional field. It's something these guys have been fighting for four years."
Williams whipped a golazo from the edge of the box that swerved around the goalkeeper's arms and burrowed inside the net for Morgan in the 16th minute. The top-seeded Trojans were scarcely threatened en route to a 1-0 halftime lead — and only built on it from there.
Emery's Alex Noriega had the best chance of the day for the 13th-seeded Spartans (9-10) when the junior speedster blazed past four defenders and launched a shot right at Stanley in the 46th minute.
Terry doubled the advantage in the 55th minute, tapping home a goal after a failed clearance from the corner flag that put the Trojans up 2-0.
Lowder made it three with his team-high 15th goal of the year in the 68th minute. The senior received a ball in the box, dribbled around three defenders, and lifted a left-footed shot gingerly over the goalkeeper and into a pocket inside the near post to go up 3-0.
Tolman finished off the scoring in the 77th minute, picking off a saved shot inside the six-yard box and tumbling into the net as the ball broke the line for the 4-0 finish.
"Our defense has been fantastic all year. Our center backs are playing some of the best teams in the state, and they don't get the recognition. But our goal is that we don't want anybody to score any goals on us, and our keepers don't have many saves because we don't want very many shots on them.
"Our boys take pride in that, and as coaches we take pride in that. We want to really put it into teams."
Judge Memorial 3, Delta 1
For three straight years — minus, of course, the cancellation of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic — Judge Memorial will find itself playing for a state championship.
Emmanuel Okongo scored the match-winner with 20 minutes remaining, and the Bulldogs held on to hand second-seeded Delta a loss in the state semifinals for the second time in four years with a 3-1 win at Juan Diego.
"I guess we were considered the champions, because no one beat us," Judge coach Mark Terrill said with a dry sense of humor. "But we didn't win it; we didn't play.
"We didn't even talk about getting there before today. We talked about this game. Now they're going to be talking about Rio Tinto Stadium."
In a first half where Delta had plenty of chances, Judge Memorial (11-5) struck first through John Chadwick's goal in the 39th minute. The freshman took a ball laid off from Constantine Daskalakis and slid it inside the far post to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead they never gave up.
Brayden Gonder equalized in the 48th minute after drawing his own penalty kick for Delta (16-3). The senior waved off medical attention with a stopped clock, then stepped to the spot and converted to reset the Rabbits' game ahead of the final half hour.
But Okongo gave the lead back to Judge Memorial in the 60th minute. The senior scored just his second goal of the season, whipping in a free kick 30 yards from goal near the right hash mark on the artificial turf football field and put it inside the far post to retake the 2-1 advantage.
"He wants to put it on goal so we can run on to it," Terrill said. "I wanted a left-footer on the ball there, and it happened. I don't know if he meant to put it in that exact spot, but it went in. So we'll take it."
Anthony Galindo finished off the scoring with a well-taken strike off a broken play in the 77th minute.
The last time the Bulldogs eliminated Delta in the semifinals of the state tournament? Back in 2018, when Judge pulled away from the Rabbits 8-2 at Juan Diego. One day later, the Bulldogs went to Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman and took a 1-0 extra-time win to clinch their fourth of five state championships (Judge added another with a 3-2 comeback win over Summit Academy in 2019).
Their opponent that night? None other than Morgan.
Can history repeat itself Tuesday night?
The Bulldogs will kick off against the Trojans at 4 p.m. MT at Rio Tinto Stadium.