The ULA D-I semifinal between the Juan Diego Soaring Eagle and Herriman Mustangs was as tight and exciting a game as the state of Utah has seen all season. The Soaring Eagle found themselves down two going into the fourth quarter and staged a comeback that started with a Tyler Stevenson transition goal on the doorstep as he caught a great feed from Ryan Green and scored. After some tense moments, a couple penalties, and a big save from Juan Diego keeper Sean Edwards, Juan Diego again found themselves with the fast-break opportunity and junior attack Austin Roberts put the ball between the pipes to knot things up at 10-10 with 2:43 remaining in the contest. Juan Diego got the ball and called timeout with two minutes to play, but were unable to capitalize on the ensuing possession. That’s when the Mustangs took the ball in transition, swung it behind the cage, and then found senior attack Matthew Dykes on the wing, who stepped down and released a low-to-low laser to the far corner of the cage, breaking the tie. A faceoff violation gave the ball to the Soaring Eagle with a chance to even things up, but a bad pass gave the ball back to Herriman, who failed to clear, but so did Juan Diego, creating chaos at midfield with the ball being batted and kicked around like a hockey puck. Eventually, a big check led to a small scrap that resulted in a player on each team in the penalty box and Juan Diego with the ball and down one with just under ten seconds to play. The Soaring Eagle sprinted from midfield, passed to the wing, and promptly dropped the ball, effectively ending the game at 10-11 and sending the Herriman Mustangs to their first ever D-I championship.
In a back-and-forth game that saw big hits, lots of transition, and no run longer than two goals for either team, each squad had several key players step up: Juan Diego junior attack Austin Roberts had a hat trick on the night, with goals spread from the first through the fourth to go along with a pair of assists and teammate Tyler Stevenson scored a pair of crucial goals in the second half. Mustang junior middie Taylor Brundage netted three goals and teammates Chantz Roberts, Matthew Everton, and Matthew Dykes each had two, as well.
“It’s a dream,” said Dykes of scoring the game-winning goal, “It’s the best feeling ever. I was out here with my best friends, and it meant a lot…I just knew that we needed it right then.”
The first quarter started with a couple good saves from each goalie before it finally tilted in Juan Diego’s favor with an Austin Roberts sweep to score from the wing. But, as would be the theme of the night for both teams, Herriman answered with a Matthew Everton goal on the doorstep, assisted by senior Benjamin Richard. The Soaring Eagle responded by mirroring the goal, sophomore Reilly Dumas catching and finishing on the doorstep on a transition pass from Roberts. Juan Diego then ate up a lot of clock with a long possession, taking several shots, but all missing their mark, and Herriman had several transition chances, but bad passes left them fruitless. A Juan Diego penalty opened the door for the Mustangs, however, and Brundage was able to net his first of the night with a big overhand jumpshot on the high crease, ending the first quarter tied 2-2.
The second quarter was Herriman’s opportunity to push into the lead, starting with a faceoff fastbreak that lead to an assist from Dykes to Everton to go up by one. But Juan Diego wouldn’t let the Mustangs run away, and senior middie Mattias Schade executed a textbook split-dodge behind the cage and placed a great bounce shot that kissed the far pipe. The two early goals looked like they might be the only in the quarter as both defenses stepped up and really stonewalled any chance of getting a good look at a shot. But, with under two minutes to go, Herriman decided they wanted the lead going into half, and ripped off back-to-back goals on a Brundage turn-n-rip on the crease followed by a bullet from the wing after an unsettled ground ball from sophomore Luis LeBaron, giving the Mustangs the 5-3 edge going into the break.
The Mustangs picked up where they left off to start the third and Chantz Roberts buried a shot from the high crease less than a minute into the quarter. The next five goals went back and forth in one of the most entertaining periods of lacrosse all season, with JD’s Stevenson scoring on a bouncer from the wing, and the Mustang’s LeBaron dancing and dodging from the top to answer, only to be rebutted by the Soaring Eagle’s Roberts on a sweep topside from the wing, but that was contested by Herriman’s Roberts finishing off a fast break. Finally, Juan Diego stopped the madness when it broke the routine, scoring two goals in a row off a Riley Roderick alley dodge and a Jack Maddox fast-break tally. The teams then fell back into the norm, with Herriman’s Brundage scooping a rebound to score a garbage goal, only to be answered by Juan Diego Longpole Bo Long taking the ball from beyond midfield all the way in for the score, and that was contested by Herriman’s Dykes, who caught the ball on the crease and let it fly for the final score of the quarter, the Mustangs leading 10-8.
After the scoring frenzy that was the third quarter, the offenses seemed tired-out in the fourth. Juan Diego eventually nabbed two, and the Soaring Eagle man-down defense was enough to hold off any Mustang scores after several penalties. Juan Diego even looked like they might take the lead and steal the victory, but a stout Herriman defense and a great low-to-low shot ended the Soaring Eagle chances at a three-peat.
“Shout out to our defense and our middies,” said Dykes, “They played their hearts out…all game long. It was a team effort…Go Herriman!”
Herriman will play the Park City Miners at Park City this Saturday at 7:00 pm for the ULA Div-I title.
ULA-B: Herriman wins! 11-10 final pic.twitter.com/jDYCN46O9G
— Utah Lacrosse News (@utahlaxnews) May 15, 2014