Maple Mountain boys soccer season ends with play-in loss to Tooele | News, Sports, Jobs


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The Maple Mountain boys’ soccer team sits on the bench after losing the 5A warm-up game to Tooele held at Spanish Fork on Thursday, May 12, 2022.

Jared Lloyd, Daily Herald

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Tooele keeper Deven Randle dives to stop a shot during the 5A warm-up match against Maple Mountain held at Spanish Fork on Thursday May 12, 2022.

Jared Lloyd, Daily Herald

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Maple Mountain senior Stefano Cia heads the ball during the 5A warm-up match against Tooele held at Spanish Fork on Thursday May 12, 2022.

Jared Lloyd, Daily Herald

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The Tooele and Maple Mountain players battle for the ball during the 5A warm-up match held at Spanish Fork on Thursday, May 12, 2022.

Jared Lloyd, Daily Herald

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The Tooele and Maple Mountain players battle for the ball during the 5A warm-up match held at Spanish Fork on Thursday, May 12, 2022.

Jared Lloyd, Daily Herald

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Although there had been some rough times for the Maple Mountain boys’ soccer team in 2022, the Golden Eagles looked like a potential darkhorse in the 5A playoffs.

Maple Mountain had every reason to believe it was poised for success, having won three of its last four games, including beating 3rd-ranked Wasatch.

The early struggles – the Golden Eagles lost 10 of their first 12 games – meant the tournament run would begin on Thursday with a play-in game against Tooele at home in Spanish Fork.

“We’ve had some good wins over the past few weeks,” said Maple Mountain head coach Lawrence Cullum. “You come into this thing and you have an opportunity to do something. I thought we got a relatively good draw, but it depended on how we showed up and what we brought that day.”

What the Golden Eagles brought against the Buffaloes were moments of glory and numerous chances, but also moments of hesitation and confusion.

What Tooele brought was an aggressive pressing defense, some great goalies – and a brilliant goal.

That goal, an opportunistic 40-yard shot from freshman Casen Walker, proved to be the game-changer as the Buffaloes held Maple Mountain scoreless to earn the 1-0 win.

“I think we’ve had a lot of games like that,” Cullum said. “You kind of control it, but you just can’t put it in. Then they get one that was a head scratcher.”

He said he saw Tooele practicing long shots during the warm-up and tried to warn his players not to allow that kind of opportunity.

In the 54th minute, however, Walker got up with the ball at his foot and saw the Golden Eagle keeper slightly out of position. He immediately let it fly and it landed under the bar to put Tooele on top.

“We had a moment where we left a kid wide open and they floated it in perfectly,” Cullum said. “Other than that, I felt like more of us were attacking and they were just kicking the ball up to chase it. That was their game plan and they used it to their advantage. They played within what they were trying to do. Once they got that goal, they could hold off more guys.”

Despite falling behind, Maple Mountain had many chances to equalize.

In quick succession, Golden Eagle senior Stefano Cia had a shot from just outside the box at the crossbar, then an open header from a free-kick in the center of the box that also just sailed high.

Tooele also made some nice saves from second goalkeeper Deven Randle, despite needing a defender to clear a bouncing ball off the line after bouncing around in the penalty area.

In the end, however, the Buffaloes prevented Maple Mountain from scoring and advanced to the 5A first round while the Golden Eagles finished their season.

“When you score the first goal, you suddenly loosen up,” Cullum said. “But the challenge we had all season was to get that goal when we needed it. It’s tough and I feel sorry for our seniors. We had about 15 and they were much better than our record this year reflected. It was one of those years where things just didn’t go our way.”

He said many of the players were on the team that made the state semifinals in 2021 and had a chance to go all the way by losing a heartthrob to Wasatch in overtime. It just didn’t go so well this year.

“This year we struggled a bit with our identity,” Cullum said. “It was about finding out what we do and what we can achieve together. We had moments where we showed what we can do.”

Though it will be difficult for Maple Mountain to lose so many contributors, Cullum is optimistic the younger players will be up for the challenge.

“If you look at our junior varsity and freshman teams this year, we’ve tried to implement a playstyle that underscores how we’re doing as a team,” Cullum said. “They really took it and had really successful seasons. They could really push each other to the limit. I think they will be ready.”

Tooele advances to play in the first round of the 5A at number 9 Stansbury on Saturday.



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