Sandy • Just like Class 2A didn't see Manti coming, Mitch Koehler wasn't ready for Alvaro Cardenas's game-winning shot.
The St. Joseph goalkeeper spent most of the second half making aggressive saves, preserving a tie in the championship game. Then, in the 76th minute, Cardenas, a sophomore, got into the box and shot right past Koehler.
The Templars, who in their five-year history had won only one playoff game, overcame a second-half deficit to beat top-ranked St. Joseph 3-2 Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium, completing one of the most unexpected runs to the championship in state history.
"We have not even been ranked all year," coach Gerald Wayman said. "We were a dark horse even coming into this tournament."
But the Templars closed their season on a 10-game winning streak and became the first public school to win a 2A championship since the UHSAA sanctioned the sport for small schools in 2007.
Manti took a 1-0 lead in the sixth minute on a shot from distance by Jed Black, but St. Joseph scored in the 32nd and 35th minutes (the first on a Manti own goal) to go into halftime with a 2-1 lead.
After blowing a 1-0 lead in the final three minutes of last year's 2A title game, St. Joseph spent this season as the state favorite.
Then, Manti struck.
Leading scorer Carlo Garcia scored in the 44th minute to tie the game. From there, the Jayhawks and Manti traded missed opportunities. Twice St. Joseph senior Adam Brodstein came close: once on a free kick that hit the crossbar, the second a hard shot at goalkeeper Antonio Jimenez.
"There was definitely some panic," Cardenas said. "You're always scared; 2-2 it was an intense game."
Manti entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed from the east division, and plowed through Intermountain Christian, defending champion Waterford (albeit in double overtime) and Layton Christian, before meeting up with St. Joseph.
The Jayhawks entered the game with a 14-2-0 record and had allowed multiple goals only once, in an early-season 2-0 loss to Class 3A runner-up Juan Diego.
Manti 3, St. Joseph 2
R Manti becomes the first public school to win a Class 2A boys' soccer title.
• St. Joseph gives up the game-winning goal in the final five minutes in the title game for the second straight year.
• Before this season, Manti had previously won one playoff game in its five-year soccer history.