The Juan Diego Soaring Eagle will be returning to the Boys D-I Championship game for the first time since 2004 with their win over the Brighton Bengals on Tuesday. Juan Diego won 6-4 in a classic showdown at Park City High School in the 2012 Boys D-I Semifinals.
The beginning of the game was filled with end to end action but neither team was able to score due to stonewall goalie play from Brighton’s Quinton Mathie and Juan Diego’s Erik Gronseth. Both goalies were helped by their defenses with only a handful of shots making it on cage. Juan Diego broke through at the 3:54 mark when attackmen Tommy Maddox wrapped around from behind the crease and slotted it in the back of the net. Brighton answered two minutes later when attackmen Chase Paulsen was behind the crease and found midfielder Elias Fairman cutting to goal. Fairman quick sticked the ball into the goal to tie the game. The second quarter was more of the same with Juan Diego capitalizing on a man-up goal and a grabbing another from Matthew Graney to take a 3-1 lead going into halftime.
In the third quarter, both teams took great possessions but the defenses again stood tall. Juan Diego Attackmen Luke Graney had a great individual goal when he pushed from behind the crease, spun down field, then up field, then down field again before losing his man, drove to crease and slotted it home. Brighton scored at the 9:53 mark when Mathie threw a pass the length of the field but it was collected by Gronseth. Paulsen applied heavy pressure and was able to steal the ball behind the net. Gronseth went to the left, Paulsen went to the right but it was Paulsen who got their first, putting it top shelf over a diving Gronseth. Juan Diego scored next when Maddox got a rebound of the cross bar and bounced it in to give the Soaring Eagle a 5-2 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Juan Diego found themselves three men down to start the fourth quarter. Brighton only shot once while three men-up but easily scored when they were two men-up when Luke Fairman shot a worm burner from the top of the box that found the back of the goal. Four minutes later, Brighton scored again on another man-up play. Attackmen Matt Mangum scored for the Bengals to bring Brighton within one goal, making the score 5-4.
Juan Diego had the ball with three minutes remaining but a moving screen gave the ball back to Brighton. The experienced Brighton players settled the ball, knowing that a goal would set them up nicely for the win. Brighton had two shots in the possession but one was wide and one was uncontrolled by Gronseth. The Juan Diego defense forced a turnover but were unable to clear, giving the Bengals another try. The Bengals worked the ball around but again, the Juan Diego defense was up to the challenge and stole the ball away and cleared to their offensive end however, Juan Diego went into the box and stepped out, giving the ball back to Brighton. The intensity rose for both teams and the fans as they knew the last minute of play would be filled with high emotion. Brighton cleared the ball and got off a shot that was gobbled up by Gronseth. Juan Diego cleared and ran a perfect fast break play with Luke Graney finding Maddox for the game-sealing goal with 20 seconds remaining.
“We knew their players could play so our whole goal was to take away top side,” said Juan Diego Head Coach Pat Lambert. “We’ve got some nice athletes on offense that can handle the ball so we could stretch them.”
Juan Diego was led by Maddox who had 3 goals. All four of the Brighton goals came from a different player with Elias Fairman, Luke Fairman, Mangum and Paulsen finding the back of the net. In cage, Gronseth had 15 saves while Mathie had 6.
“Gronseth is playing out of his skull right now and he is just solid,” said Lambert. “Jeff Malone and Carter Mannix stepped up big for us because Matt Jungemann wasn’t feeling well.”
Juan Diego will play Alta in the 2012 Boys D-I Championship on May 19 at Brighton High School. The game will face-off at 7:00pm.
Photos courtesy of ShootingStar Photography