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No. 1 Juan Diego Surges Late For Victory Against No. 3 Alta

Luke Graney

It was a beautiful day for lacrosse as the No. 1 Juan Diego Soaring Eagle and No. 3 Alta Hawks went head-to-head in Timpview’s Thunderbird Stadium in the D-I Semifinals on Tuesday.  The backdrop of the mighty Mount Timpanogos was the perfect setting for the game between the defending state champ Soaring Eagle and the hungry underdog Hawks.  When the dust settled and all was said and done, Juan Diego found themselves on top and returning to the finals, handing Alta the 13-9 loss.
“We’re just living for the moment,” commented Soaring Eagle Head Coach Patrick Lambert, “we need to recognize that there’s tons of stuff on these guys’ minds…we play well when we settle down and are present in the moment.”
The first quarter started slowly for the offenses, with both keepers playing extremely well and making good saves on each end.  Alta finally drew first blood when junior middie Matt Hunter caught a feed on the doorstep and finished, and later senior attack Tanner Brown grabbed an unsettled goal off a failed Juan Diego clear.  The Soaring Eagle responded with a Matthew Graney wing dodge to keep things close, but Alta scored again when senior Dallin Ritchie dodged around the back of the cage and got topside on his defender for the tally, closing out the quarter with the Hawks up 3-1.
Luke Graney
Juan Diego looked to make things interesting in the second quarter, tying up the game with a stutter-step and shot from junior Casey Rose and a fast break goal from senior attack Nick Grogg.  The Alta ride then became smothering, causing Juan Diego to give up possessions and the Hawks scored when senior Hunter Hansen caught the ball and ripped it past the keeper from the top of the box.  After a Soaring Eagle goal, the Hawks pushed their lead with back-to-back tallies from sophomore Harrison Waddoups and senior Kyle Baldassari.  Not wanting to be outdone, the Soaring Eagle then went back-to-back themselves on a Ryan Green face dodge from the wing and an Alex Day doorstep goal after creeping from X behind the cage.  Juan Diego gave away their momentum with a penalty, however, and the Hawks were able to grab a man up goal to end the half with the 7-6 edge.
“We were a little tight in the beginning,” said Lambert, “we had some nice-looking shots, but we had to get out there and relax.”
The Soaring Eagle apparently found a way to relax during halftime, because in the third quarter they started to dominate at the faceoff X, giving them an opportunity to gobble up possession time and get good looks at the cage.  Juan Diego’s Grogg then got the ball rolling with an alley dodge for the score, followed by an unsettled goal from Tristan Courtney.  After some back-and-forth play, the Soaring Eagle’s Graney brothers took over, with Luke netting a nifty Kyle-Harrison-esque jump shot on an alley dodge, followed by Matthew sending a worm-burner into the cage, and Luke capping the family hat trick with high heat from the corner of the box.  The five-goal run by the Soaring Eagle opened up a big 11-7 lead, but things then got a little ugly when both sides received penalties and things started to get chippy between the two teams to end the quarter.
The action slowed considerably in the fourth quarter, with Juan Diego taking long possessions and playing smart to preserve their lead.  The Soaring Eagle eventually scored two goals, expanding their lead to an insurmountable six goals with only minutes left to play, and, while Alta’s Tanner Brown would grab back-to-back goals to try to spark the comeback, it was too little, too late, and Juan Diego celebrated their 13-9 vault back into the finals.
“Nick Grogg brings so much energy,” mused Coach Lambert after the victory, “on any other team he would be the offensive threat.  Riley Rose also came straight out of an AP exam and [stepped] in goal.  He’s so talented both academically and physically.”
On returning to the finals: “We don’t want to make the championship any bigger than it is.  We just want to have a good practice on Wednesday.”
The Soaring Eagle will look to repeat as champs when they take on Lone Peak in the D-I Championship Game on Saturday, May 18, at 7:00pm at Copper Hills High School.
If you missed the action on Tuesday, don’t worry, the D-II Semifinals will be happening Wednesday at Timpview High School.  Everything you need to enjoy the game, a slider from Marley’s, a drink, and great lacrosse fans, are all on hand to enhance the experience.

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