The Grantsville girls soccer team had revenge on its mind going into Wednesday’s second-round Class 3A state tournament game against Emery.
After all, it was the Spartans who came into Grantsville a year ago and stunned the Cowboys in the postseason, leaving coach Travis Lowry and his team lamenting a less-than-stellar effort. This time around, there were no regrets. In an outing that Lowry said might have been the Cowboys’ best defensive game ever, eighth-seeded Grantsville routed No. 9 Emery 8-0 to earn its second state quarterfinal berth in program history.
“To be honest, it was one of those games we were little bit embarrassed about last year,” Lowry said. “I thought we were better, but we didn’t play better (in 2019). This one was a good one. It was fun.”
The Cowboys (10-6 overall) peppered Emery goalkeeper Arilyn Allred with shots early and often, though it took them a little bit to finally break through. Alyssa Roberts’ shot just missed the frame in the second minute, while Whitney Wangsgard rang one off the crossbar in the ninth minute off a feed from Hannah Gardner. However, it was just a matter of time before Grantsville found the back of the net, and Wangsgard scored her first goal of the afternoon in the 17th minute.
“We wanted to win so bad,” Wangsgard said. “We didn’t want our season to end. We have worked the entire season for this game, and after last year, we just wanted to show them that we really are good and we are here to play.”
The floodgates opened from there. McKenzie Allen converted a feed from Wangsgard for a 2-0 lead in the 25th minute, and had two more point-blank chances turned aside in the 26th and 27th minutes. Emily Adams also had a shot turned aside before Wangsgard’s second goal of the game in the 29th minute came on a hard shot from the top of the 18-yard box. Grantsville carried a 3-0 lead into halftime.
The barrage continued in the second half, though Lowry noted that the Cowboys’ passing wasn’t at its best. Wangsgard’s third goal of the game gave Grantsville a 4-0 lead in the 50th minute, and just under three and a half minutes later, she converted a picture-perfect feed from Callie Carlson for another goal to make it 5-0.
After a series of near-misses, as well as several saves by Allred, Wangsgard sent Allen in on a partial break for her second goal of the game in the 65th minute. Wangsgard added her fifth goal of the game — and 198th of her career — in the 70th minute, and Allen brought the game to a close with her third of the game with 56 seconds left on the clock.
“We’re excited for (the quarterfinals),” Lowry said. “It’s always good to keep playing.”
Wangsgard and her fellow seniors played the final home game of their careers on Wednesday, and saw Wednesday’s big win as the perfect send-off.
“The emotions are high,” Wangsgard said. “This is just what we wanted. We wanted to win and we wanted to do good. It’s a great feeling to see how far we’ve come.”
Carlson had three assists for Grantsville in the win, while Wangsgard had two and Elizabeth Whitworth added one. Adalyn Enslen made six saves to earn the shutout, and Kaylee Romney anchored a defense that kept Emery (9-8) from creating many dangerous chances.
Saturday’s state quarterfinal game on the road against top-seeded Manti, which defeated No. 16 Grand 7-0 on Wednesday, will also serve as a rematch of sorts. In 2017, when the current seniors were freshmen, the Templars ended the Cowboys’ season in the quarterfinals in a hard-fought, 2-1 win in Manti.
“I’ve wanted to play Manti since freshman year, and now it’s time,” Wangsgard said. “We are going to come out hard and we’re going to get them — we’re going to do good.”
Saturday’s game will kick off at 1 p.m. at Manti High School.