The Boys Division I Championship game fit the pattern of the rest of the championship games Saturday at Brighton High School; Fast, intense, and insanely close. The Juan Diego Soaring Eagle beat the Alta Hawks 9-8 to become the 2012 Division I State Champions.
The face-off whistle blew, and the Championship game was underway. Juan Diego’s Luke Graney scored just under a minute of play off a fast break. The Soaring Eagle possessed the ball for a good portion of the first half, taking their time to find an open shot. The Alta defense played strong defense and held them scoreless for 6 minutes until Tommy Maddox passed the ball to Alex Day on the wing for their second goal. Alta had the opportunity to take many shots the first quarter as well, but wasn’t able to capitalize on them. The first quarter ended with Juan Diego up 2-0.
As the crowd grew, so did the players emotions. It took both teams a bit to get used to the game setting and to gain composure. Once they were able to settle down, it became a shooting fest on both sides of the field. Alta’s Zachary Rodgerson found Weston Cash open on the crease. A quick fake and shot put Alta on the board. Four minutes later, Matt Michaeli tied the ball game up. Michaeli took the dodge from the top center of the box, split dodge, and ripped a shot past goalie Erik Gronseth. The game went into the half tied at 2-2.
The Hawks came out of the half ready to win. They scored two quick goals to put them ahead by two and to give them the momentum. Weston struck again, followed by Tanner Brown. Brown received the pass on a fast break and stung it in the back of the net from the left side. The Alta bench and crowed erupted.
Juan Diego answered 2 minutes later with a goal from Matt Graney. There was a scrum in front of the goal, Graney came up with it and quickly whipped around and put the ball low on goalie Jake Dunn. The Hawks struck two more time, one right after the other, both unassisted. First Tanner Brown again, followed by a goal from Mackay Dunn. Dunn split dodged to the left side and ripped it far pipe to put Alta up by 3.
Juan Diego’s Casey Rose was able to cut that lead down to 2 by creating his own time and room. He took his defender down the left side and quickly looped back to sting one past Jake Dunn. The third quarter wrapped up with Alta up 6-4.
Again Alta came out fired up and ready to continue scoring. They had three midfielders along the top of the box, and each one drew their defender and then dished to the next. The ball was worked down to attack where Rodgerson was found with time and room to put it in the back of the net.
The Soaring Eagle then went on a 3 goal streak to even the game out. Alex Day scored the first, followed by another goal from Matt Graney on a fast break. The equalizer came from Day finding Nick Grogg open on the wing. Grogg put it top pipe, and just like that the score was tied at 7-7.
With 2 minutes left in the game, Michaeli scored an impressive goal. He brought the ball from behind the goal, to just a few steps above GLE. With almost no angle, he put it past Gronseth. Alta was back on top with under 2 minutes to go.
Just 30 seconds later, Maddox dodged from X , curled around the goal, faked high and went low to tie the ball game for the Soaring Eagle. After the face-off, Alta received a failure to advance penalty. Juan Diego was quick to restart and found Matt Graney wide open just above the crease. With plenty of time, Graney threw a few fakes and put the Soaring Eagle ahead 9-8 with 50 seconds left in the game. Alta rushed the ball to offense and had a great shot, but Gronseth came up with a huge save that was deflected off into the far side of the box. Alta recovered the ground ball with 10 seconds left and took a shot just above GLE. The shot went behind the net, and there was a crease violation on the Hawks. On the restart, Juan Diego threw the ball to the other end of the field and threw their arms up in celebration.
Coach Lambert also pointed out how his team never gave up. “As you can see they have a never say die attitude, when times are looking pretty tough these guys are doing fine. We started off really hot, but for some reason we got a little stagnate. I am really proud of our defense we played some nice man to man defense against some tough players,” said Lambert.
After the game, many of the Juan Diego alumni came up to Head Coach Patrick Lambert and congratulated him. “I have been hugged by about 200 alumni players. It’s a real special moment when watch that many alumni come up. I am so proud of these boys,” he said.
Wrapping up the year, Coach Lambert was very proud of his team and how well they have played together. “You have certain years when you head to practice you are excited as all get out. You can’t wait to get there because you know the boys are going to be excited and ready for practice,” he said. “I love these guys.”
Alta Juan Diego
Turnovers 23 23
Faceoff’s won 8 13
Shots 36 36
Penalties 2 4
B’s Players of the Game
Juan Diego: #24 Matthew Graney, Freshman Attack
Matthew Graney played a huge game for a freshman. Having a hat trick your freshman year in the championship game, as well as scoring the winning goal is evident that he has tons of talent. When asked who stood out to him, Coach Lambert started with Matthew. “He played unbelievably well. I think they may have focused more on Tommy Maddox and Luke Graney and sure enough, Matthew stepped right up,” he said.
Alta: #19 Matt Michaeli, Senior Midfield
Matt is a solid player that had some key goals on Saturday, both of which were very impressive. His first goal was a very nice running shot after losing his defender. His second goal was an unbelievable goal. He had no angle, and very little room, and was able to get it past his defender and the goalie. He is obviously a leader of the team and has the talent to back it up.