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Strong Second Half Lifts Soaring Eagle Past Bulldogs in Rivalry Quarterfinal

Judge - Juan DiegoThe No. 1 seed Juan Diego Soaring Eagle lacrosse team kept their season alive, advancing to the semifinals of the ULA D-I playoffs by defeating longtime-rival, the Judge Memorial Bulldogs, 13-7 in a wet and rainy quarterfinal game Saturday night.
What was a tight game early got away from the Bulldogs in the second half as Juan Diego tightened up the defense and put a relentless barrage of shots on the cage, led by senior midfielder Ryan Green (4 goals, 1 assist) and sophomore midfielder Tristan Courtney (3 goals).
“We moved the ball very, very well tonight,” said Juan Diego Head Coach John Holmes, “and we had a ton of shots…and they were going in. We had good plays and a lot of assists tonight, which is something we’re always looking for.”
Both offenses looked to get on the board quickly, with Judge getting a shot on cage within the first minute, and Juan Diego taking two good rips at the net, which were both saved by Bulldog junior keeper Johnny Garlinghouse.  The Soaring Eagle were finally able to draw first blood when freshman attack Chantz Hower rolled behind the cage and found junior attack Austin Roberts in the top corner of the box for the hard shot past the goalie. Less than a minute later, Judge Memorial responded when senior middie Daniel Voytovich swept across the top of the box, getting a clear look at the six-by-six and burying the ball in the back of the net.
Judge came up with several good stops on defense, but had trouble clearing the ball, a trend that would hurt them throughout the game, and Juan Diego’s Green sent a sidearm laser home from the top corner. This was answered by Judge’s Gabe Rechsteiner catching a pass from Voytovich and finding paydirt soon after. But Juan Diego flexed their muscles to close out the quarter with a Courtney alley dodge to score and another high-heat goal from Green off the wing, giving them the 4-2 advantage.
The Soaring Eagle’s Tyler Stevenson kicked things off in the second, pushing down the alley on the solo dodge for the score. The Bulldogs kept things close, though, as Miles Eyre executed a great pick-n-roll and then used a textbook face-dodge to free his hands for the goal. After a stick penalty, Juan Diego sophomore keeper Sean Edwards made a couple great man-down saves to preserve the Soaring Eagle lead and Green once again found himself uncovered at the top of the box and sent another bullet into the cage. In rivalry fashion, Judge responded again, this time getting Aidan Larson open on the crease for the catch-turn-rip. Jack Maddox would score for Juan Diego and Douglas Gosselin answered for Judge with one second left in the half, taking the teams into the break with the Soaring Eagle up 7-5.
The rain really started to come down in the second half, but it didn’t seem to bother Juan Diego as they turned up the heat. After some back and forth and a couple penalties, Courtney took a transition ball all the way from midfield for the shorthanded goal, then Green caught the ball on a man-up play and sent it low-to-high from the wing for another score. Judge’s only score of the quarter came when a saved shot rebounded into Larson’s stick and he was able to just push it back into the cage. But Juan Diego scored one more, increasing their lead to 10-6 going into the fourth.
The fourth quarter was all Juan Diego as the Soaring Eagle ripped off three unanswered, giving them a 13-6 lead, and they started using long possessions to eat up large chunks of time. Eventually Judge was able to regain possession, and sophomore attack Zach Gill scored on a good shot from the wing to make the final score a respectable 13-7.
“Defense played very well, so we had more opportunities to play offense,” said Holmes, “You work all year long, you want to get to the playoffs, and it’s always good to win that first one.”
Juan Diego, whose Soaring Eagle Stadium is hosting the ULA semifinal games, will take on Herriman on Wednesday for a shot at a return to the championship for the third year in a row.

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