Draper • As a high school soccer program that has been in existence for only five seasons, the Manti Templars were in unchartered territory Friday as they faced off against Layton Christian Academy in the Class 2A soccer semifinals.
After trailing early, the Templars scored three unanswered goals — two from Carlo Garcia in a superb second half of soccer — to win 3-1. Manti now will play on the biggest stage, and for the ultimate prize, Saturday when it meets St. Joseph at Rio Tinto Stadium at 1:30 p.m.
“This feels amazing,” said junior midfielder Carlo Garcia. “We’ve all been dreaming about this since the beginning of the year and it just took a lot of determination to get us here.”
It took overcoming a deficit as well. Layton Christian scoring machine Ignacio Baeza, playing with an ankle injury, got loose in the 30th minute and drilled a shot to give Layton Christian the early lead.
Manti answered when Juan Miguel got in front of the defense and punched it low and left, away from goalkeeper Berke Kalemoglu.
“I thought we came out a little flat, but once our ball handlers started pushing forward and getting it to our forwards in good position, I knew we’d be OK,” said coach Gerald Wayman.
Garcia struck early in the second half with a lofted ball just over the fingertips of Kalemoglu, then took his time after receiving a pass across midfield, avoided several defenders and deftly put home his 22nd goal of the season.
St. Joseph 3,Wasatch Academy 0
It’s a return trip to the 2A championship game for St. Joseph, as leading scorer Adam Brodstein twice assisted on goals to David Donleavy, and the Jayhawks cruised to a semifinal victory over Wasatch Academy.
Class 2A soccer championship
P Manti vs. St. Joseph
Saturday, 1:30 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium