It was a long and bumpy road to the Boys D-I Championships for the Juan Diego Soaring Eagle, but the team held strong through adversity, came together and earned the right to be called champions for the second straight season. In a hard fought battle Juan Diego handed the Lone Peak Knights their first loss of the season with an 8-4 win.
Juan Diego Head Coach Patrick Lambert commented on the team’s consecutive championships: “The boys put a lot of pressure on themselves to repeat. When you have them saying in their first practice, ‘we’re gonna repeat. We’re gonna win the state championship,’ sometimes it takes a lot of refocusing and say, ‘alright, let’s just have a good practice right now. You don’t have to win it today.'”
The first quarter began and immediately it was an intense battle for possession of the ball. The entire first quarter was defensive stop after defensive stop. On both ends of the field, attackmen were getting shut down. Finally, almost halfway into the quarter, Soaring Eagle attackman Tommy Maddox found the back of the net on the team’s first shot of the night. Despite creating a few good offensive looks, Lone Peak was held scoreless in the first.
The exceptional defense of the first quarter spilled over into the third. The Knights offense really stepped it up and began to fire away. They increased their shots from seven to twelve over the previous quarter, but Juan Diego goalie Riley Rose was knocking away every shot that came his way. Finally, over halfway through the second quarter, Knight attackman Aaron Fjeldsted scored the team’s first goal from behind the goal and around the crease. Just a couple minutes later, the goal was followed with another, fed from Josh Stout to his older brother Jake Stout for a goal.
In speaking about the outcome of the first half of the game, Coach Lambert said, “I felt like we weren’t really getting our offense moving. We took three shots in the first half. There have been games where we took three shots in the first 30 seconds. We have a real high powered offense. [Lone Peak] was able to slough down their defense pretty well and kind of clog up that center. We were able to make some adjustments and figure out how we could start creating some mismatches and be able to overload certain areas. I felt like we were able to implement so nice offensive adjustments.”
“Riley Rose is a stud,” Coach Lambert continued, “That’s a totally different game if we don’t have a brick wall out there blocking shots. he stepped in and gave a 100% effort. When he stepped out, Bo Long stepped in and got a save. That was his first and only save this year. I am very fortunate to be surrounded by such a great group of young men.”
The game took a major turn in the third quarter. Within the first couple minutes of play Maddox brought the game back to a tie with a goal fed by MVP attackman Luke Graney. The run continued for the next four goals, with the final being another Graney to Maddox transition goal. Because the Soaring Eagle was busy shooting on their end of the field, Lone Peak’s offense did not get as many looks and were again held scoreless.
Early in the final quarter, Lone Peak was able to bring the game back within two with a goal by Josh Stout and another goal by midfielder Eric Mika, with Fjeldsted pick up the assist. Juan Diego did not let the two goals put a damper on their spirits. Midfielder Nick Grogg scored the team’s final two goals of the game. The Soaring Eagle finished out the game working to keep the ball away from Lone Peak, and were able to run the clock down to claim the Championship.
“We had a major tragedy that happened with the loss of one of our players, Matt Jungemann, who is just an incredible human being and a wonderful young man,” commented Lambert. “With that happening, I felt like the boys stuck together and they recognized, ‘let’s give ourselves the home field advantage.’ Every practice, let’s be the biggest support to each other. If we start seeing some of our boys dipping down, let’s be the ones to pick them up. With all that being said, I am just incredibly proud of their effort.”
In 2008, Lone Peak defeated Woods Cross to become the Boys D-II Champions. Since that time, Lone Peak has advanced into D-I and made their first appearance in the championship game. This season was Juan Diego’s third playing for the D-I title. In 2004 Juan Diego fell to Waterford. Last season Juan Diego defeated Alta for their first D-I Championship title.