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Explosive Offense Powers Vikings Past Bulldogs

Judge Pleasant Grove

In one of the best first-round matchups in the state, the fifth-seeded Judge Memorial Bulldogs travelled south to go head-to-head with the fourth-seeded Pleasant Grove Vikings, and the game did not disappoint.  The battle pitted the Vikings’ precision offense against the Bulldogs’ stout defense, and after a back-and-forth struggle that looked like it could go either way, the Vikings ended up on top, 15-14, to prolong their season.
“It feels great to help the seniors extend their season,” said sophomore LSM Zach Burbidge whose stellar D was key to the victory, “we played great as a team.”
The first quarter started with the teams trading goals before a torrential downpour began to drench everything on the field, but the action didn’t let up.  Bulldog senior attackman Eric Larson then grabbed his second goal of the game with a nifty shot from the wing on a man-up play followed by a Grant Pierce cut to the goal and catch-n-finish on the doorstep, putting the Bulldogs up 3-1.  The Vikings had several opportunities, but had serious trouble hanging onto the ball.  Pleasant Grove finally saw some success when Burbidge snagged a pass out of the air and pushed it forward for the shorthanded fast-break.  Pleasant Grove longpole Kueper Kuhni then took the ball and assisted sophomore Chad Renslow, bringing the Vikings within one, 3-2.  Judge’s Gabe Rechsteiner responded by dodging through two defenders and burying the ball in the net.  After back-to-back goals from the Vikings, the Bulldogs again gained the advantage with a doorstep goal late in the quarter to give them the 5-4 lead at the end of the first.
Judge Pleasant Grove
The second quarter saw more of the same back-and-forth play and several nice transition goals from both sides.  Things then got physical, resulting in penalties against both teams, but both man-down units held strong and the score remained tied at 6-6.  Judge’s Larson then dodged from behind for a score and Pierce quick-sticked the ball on the doorstep for another.  PG nabbed a goal of their own, but Judge grabbed two more including a Sean Sloan roll dodge.  A Bulldog penalty gave the Vikings a late opportunity and Spencer Merrifield capitalized to pull within two at the half, 10-8.
“[At that point] they thought they’d take the game easy,” observed Pleasant Grove Senior Chad Madsen, “but there was no way they were taking it from us.”
Burbidge agreed, “The intensity at the half was a night-and-day difference.”
After each team netted a goal in the third, the Viking offense kicked into high gear.  Pleasant Grove went on a five-goal run thanks to long possessions, good ball movement, and a suffocating ride that kept the ball in their offensive end, securing the 14-11 lead going into the fourth.
But Judge Memorial isn’t one of the most successful programs in the State because they roll over at the first sign of adversity.  The Bulldogs came out hard in the fourth quarter with Pierce and Nickolas O’Cain grabbing quick goals and keeper Dexter Holmquist making save after fantastic save as he was peppered with Viking shots.  The save streak came to an end, however, when Pleasntant Grove’s Madsen took a clearing pass, maintained possession after being tripped in the box, and finished with a strong right hand.  The Viking defense lapsed on the next possession and left Judge’s Pierce open on the doorstep to bring the Bulldogs within a single goal, 15-14.  The Vikings won the consequent face-off and looked like they’d run out the clock with under two minutes left, but the stingy Bulldog defense forced a turnover and Judge called a timeout with a minute left to play and needing only one goal to force overtime.  The Viking D played tough, though, and forced an errant pass, effectively ending the game with the Vikings squeaking out the one-goal victory, 15-14.
“We made them play to our level, and it feels good [to win],” said Burbidge of the big second half and the victory.  Madsen added “It feels incredible [to get the victory].  This team is for real!”
The Vikings will get a chance to prove just how real they are when they head up to Draper to take on defending state champ and No. 1 seed Juan Diego on Saturday.

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