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Still Perfect; Knights Outlast Jumpstart Warriors

Jake Stout Lone PeakIn Knight Stadium, another one of Utah County’s beautiful lacrosse venues, the undefeated No. 1 seed Lone Peak Knights faced off against the No. 5 seed Spanish Fork Warriors in a Utah County showdown.  And while a huge fourth quarter gave the Knights the 14-6 victory, the game was much closer than the final score indicates.
“We were worried [early] when they had the lead,” said Lone Peak Junior Middie Mitch Decker, “we just pulled it out.”
Both defenses showed up early and kept the score low in the first quarter.  The Warrior D effectively locked-down All-American Jake Stout, making it difficult for the Knights to run their offense.
“Teams push out on me,” commented Stout, “and I’ll usually pick and choose when to cut. I’ll just draw my guy out and give my team a better chance to score.”
The strategy worked early for Knight middie Tanner Scheide who got the ball early and ripped it past the Warrior keeper.  Spanish Fork senior Tyler Swenson responded by sending high heat from the top of the box and finding the top corner to tie things up.  The Knights then worked the ball around in a long possession, trying to find the perfect shot, but it hit pipe and the Warriors pushed it forward for a fast break.  Senior Attackman Jarom Plewe took the ball down from midfield and found an open Jake Merrill on the crease who finished with the beautiful spinning backhanded shot for the score, ending the first quarter with Spanish Fork up 2-1.
In quarter two, Jake Stout finally found some breathing room, scoring his first of a hat trick in the quarter for the Knights with a nice question-mark dodge for the tally.  But on the next possession, Warrior sophomore middie Gavin McClaine cut open across the crease and was able to catch and finish.  The Warriors nabbed another when Plewe played the two-man game perfectly behind the cage, using a pick-n-slip to get open on the doorstep for the score.  A consequent Spanish Fork penalty killed the Warrior’s momentum and proved costly as the Knights went on a four-goal run to end the quarter, including two more Jake Stout goals, a Mitch Decker man-up pipe-rattler from the wing, and an astounding early bouncer from Mac Jones that caused the goalie to lose track of the ball.  Spanish Fork fired back, peppering the Lone Peak cage, but Knight senior keeper Abe Dahlgren made some great saves to preserve the lead going into the half, 6-4.
An early Lone Peak penalty to start the third gave the Warriors a chance to close the gap, and Swenson capitalized with a man up laser from the top of the box.  Spanish Fork then had a golden opportunity to tie things up when an attackman juked his defender, causing him to fall, but Knight goalie Dahlgren came up with the big one-on-one stop.  Lone Peak’s Decker then scored, followed by Spanish Fork’s Casey James face dodging to score from the wing to keep things close.  After a couple long possessions from both teams, chewing up most of the clock, Lone Peak was able to sneak one in when Aaron Fjeldsted caught and finished on the doorstep with only two seconds remaining, giving the Knights some breathing room, finishing the quarter up 9-6.
The start of the fourth quarter saw several nice saves from Warrior sophomore keeper Morgan Dunn, including a one-on-one stop to keep Spanish Fork within striking distance.  But after some sloppy physical play and Lone Peak’s longpoles snatching any feeds that came across the middle, several minutes had ticked away, forcing the Warrior D to start taking chances.  Facing a three-goal deficit, the Spanish Fork defense pressed out, trying to get the ball out of the Knights’ sticks, and Lone Peak took advantage and started to pour it on: Decker capped off a hat trick with a man-up goal, Sheide nabbed a short-handed goal, and freshman Josh Stout snagged a hat trick late, ballooning the lead and effectively ending the game, 14-6.
“It feels good to be in the conversation now with teams like Brighton and Juan Diego. We’ve learned that we can play in the fourth quarter, when it counts,” said Stout when asked about what his team could take from the game. “We learned to start earlier,” added Decker, “to play four quarters.”
The Knights will need to play four quarters in the semifinals on Tuesday as they take on No. 2 seeded Brighton in what promises to be one of the best games of the season. The other semifinal game will feature No. 1 seeded Juan Diego taking on No. 3 seeded Alta. Both games are on Tuesday at Timpview High School in Provo.
The Spanish Fork Warriors have no reason to hang their heads, though, as they closed their first D-I season with an overall record of 10-8 with wins over notable teams such as Bountiful, Bingham, Riverton, and Park City en route to the quarterfinals.
“We had to learn consistency in every game,” reminisced Head Coach Phil Dunn, “we still struggled with that late in the season.  We have the skill level to beat any team in the state, and next year we’ll be even better.”

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