In a fantastic match up of the past two Division II girls champions, the Olympus Titans hosted the Juan Diego Soaring Eagle Monday night. Juan Diego won the 2016 DII championships and then moved up in the rankings last year to finish the season ranked No. 10. Juan Diego comes into the contest with a record of three wins and four losses. The Soaring Eagles lost their first three games of the season but have since turned things around as they have won 3 of their last 4 games.
Olympus won the 2017 DII championship and are looking to make some noise in Division I. Olympus has an identical record to Juan Diego with three wins and four losses. Olympus has had one of the more difficult schedules as all four of their losses have come by the hands of the top teams in the state.
Juan Diego would start the game off strong as they would gain possession off the first three draws to take an early 3-0 lead with two goals by Ryan Stolfa and a goal by Alexis Moratalla. Juan Diego would win the next draw, but after a Soaring Eagle turnover, Olympus would get their first score as Karoline Verhaaren would find the back of the net assisted by Meredith Clark. Juan Diego would answer back quickly as Stolfa would score another goal, assisted by Paige Cameron.[gravityform id="278" title="true" description="true" ajax="true"]
Down by a score of 1-4, Olympus found some offensive rhythm as Roxanne Crandall was able to score on an inside crease roll. Minutes later Olympus Midfielder Alissa Johnson had the play of the night as teammate Hannah Clegg fed her a pass right in front of the goal. With the Juan Diego goalie covering the right side of the goal, Johnson shot a flashy behind the back shot to score the magnificent goal. Olympus would try to keep up the momentum, but Juan Diego continued to gain possession of the draw. Juan Diego scored again with a goal by Chloe Redican assisted by Stolfa to give the Soaring Eagles a 5-3 lead.
After a timeout, Olympus was able to close the gap with another goal by Johnson and then tie the game with just seconds left in the half on a goal by Crandall assisted by Verhaaren. With only 10 seconds left on the clock, Juan Diego wasn’t settled on going into halftime tied. The Soaring Eagles won the next draw and quickly transitioned it down field and scored on a free position goal at the buzzer to put them up 6-5 at half time.
The biggest difference in the first half was Juan Diego’s dominance on the draw control. Juan Diego was able to secure 10 draw controls as Olympus only had one draw control. This made it extremely difficult for Olympus as they seemed to be fighting an uphill battle as they struggled to gain possession of the ball.
Juan Diego started the second half strong as they scored consecutive goals, one by Moratalla and a goal by Redican assisted by Ella Candage to push their lead to 8-5. Olympus would answer back with goals by Emily Lunt and Tatum Meier, both assisted by Johnson to close the gap to 8-7. Olympus was finally able to tie the game as Crandall scored on another beautiful inside crease roll. The game continued to go back and forth as Juan Diego took the lead with a goal by Gabby Horner assisted by Stolfa, only to have Olympus tie it once again as Johnson scored on a free position goal.
With the game tied 9-9 and less than 10 minutes left, the next draw seemed to be crucial for both teams. Even though Juan Diego dominated the draw control all night, Olympus was able to come up with a rare draw control to gain possession. This was a key possession for Olympus and an opportunity for the Titans to take their first lead of the game. A costly turnover right in front of the goal lead to a Juan Diego fast break going the other way. Juan Diego was able to capitalize on their offensive possession as the ball went down in front of the goal, Moratalla was quickly able to pick up the ground ball and send it to the back of the net before the defense was able to react, giving the Soaring Eagle a 10-9 lead.
Now with only 6 minutes left, Juan Diego secured another draw control to give them an important possession. With a one goal lead, Juan Diego showed poise and patience in their offense, careful not to give the ball away. After a long and drawn out possession, Horner scored an important insurance goal with only two minutes left on the clock to put her team up 11-9.
Olympus coach Amy Erickson called a time out to try to rally her team and energize them for the last two minutes. However, Juan Diego’s dominance on the draw continued as they secured the draw and went into a stall. Olympus was able to make the ending very interesting as they forced a turnover and scored on a goal by Lunt assisted by Meier to bring the Titans back within a goal with only 36 seconds left. If Olympus wanted any chance to tie the game, they would have to win the ensuing draw.
True to form, Juan Diego controlled the final draw to close the door on Olympus. The Soaring Eagles were victorious, beating the Titans by the final score of 11-10.
“It was a good fight by both teams,” Juan Diego coach Amanda Abraham said. “We have been working hard and our players have bought in.” When asked about the keys to winning the game, Amanda stated it was their “cohesiveness, teamwork, and attitude.”
Juan Diego’s Ryan Stolfa had a major day at the draw, as Juan Diego won 18 of the 22 draws with Stolfa gaining 13 draw controls for her team.
Juan Diego was led by Stolfa with three goals and two assists. Alexis Moratalla contributed three goals. Chloe Redican had two goals and an assist, Ella Candage had a goal and two assists. Gabby Horner had two goals and Paige Cameron had an assist to round out the scoring for Juan Diego.
Olympus was led by Alisa Johnson with 3 goals and 2 assists. Karoline Verhaaren added 2 goals and an assist. Emily Lunt and Roxanne Crandall scored 2 goals each. Tatum Meier scored a goal and an assist. Hannah Clegg and Meredith Clark each contributed with an assist.
Both teams play their next game on Wednesday as Olympus travels to Viewmont while Juan Diego will play at Riverton.