Prep boys' soccer: Montoya emerges as scoring threat for Juan Diego

Prep boys soccer • Juan Diego has reached the state title game the last two seasons.
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Draper • The sound of the ball coming off the foot of Juan Diego's Andrew Montoya is different than that of others.

On Monday, with temperatures dropping seemingly by the minute, Juan Diego and St. Joseph played to a scoreless draw. The cool air made for a hard ball, and with it, lots of hollow, muted touches.

Except when it shot off the foot of Montoya, the Soaring Eagle junior center midfielder. You almost could hear the ball collapsing upon impact before rifling toward the goal.

Juan Diego lost a majority of its scorers to graduation from a team that reached its second consecutive state title game a year ago. Coach Scott Platz said he is looking for a player or two to emerge and fill the scoring void left by, among others, Adam Richardson, who tallied 18 goals in his senior season.

Montoya separated himself a bit in Juan Diego's season-opening 3-0 victory against Rowland Hall. He scored twice, including one from long distance.

"We've got to replace a lot of goals," Platz said. "[Montoya] is going to have to produce for us if we're going to make any kind of run in region or in the state tournament. He is such a dynamic player. He's always around the ball, always creating. You have to know where he is at all times."

In Monday's draw, players and coaches alike urged players to "Look for 'Toya" while on the attack. He narrowly missed ending the game in regulation when a shot from 30 yards out sailed just high of the crossbar.

"We changed up the formation a little bit, so I have a little more freedom than last year," said Montoya, who scored eight goals as a sophomore. "I just need to finish."

But Juan Diego (1-0-1) might not need a ton of scoring if the back line plays as it has in the opening week of the season. Junior goalkeeper Ruben Rico, who missed a significant part of the season a year ago with a concussion, already has two shutouts.

"We'll take that," Platz said. "Ruben has some experience, but he's getting a lot more experience with him being the man.

"Last year we gave away a cheap goal here, cheap goal there. Hopefully we can clean that up a little bit."

That defense will come in handy as Juan Diego again challenges defending Region 10 champion Wasatch this season. The Archers already had scored six goals through their first two games of the season.

"Our defense is working really good, that's what's been getting us the shutouts," Montoya said. "But what we really need to work on and get better at is the midfield and forwards getting their defensive shape. That will help even more."

Perhaps it will help enough to elevate the Soaring Eagle, which returns six starters, to heights not yet reached by the program. Three trips to the state title game, with a loss each time. —

Still Soaring

Juan Diego's Andrew Montoya has two goals in two games and may be emerging as the scoring threat the team needs after losing a majority of last year's goals to graduation.

The Soaring Eagle are 1-0-1 with two shutouts on the young season.

Juan Diego has reached the Class 3A title game in each of the past two seasons but has fallen short each time.