DRAPER — A year ago, St. Joseph's boys soccer team came agonizingly close to capturing the 2A state championship before things fizzled away in the final three minutes. Today, the Jayhawks get their shot at redemption.
Behind a pair of goals from sophomore David Donlevy, St. Joseph took care of business in the 2A semifinals on Saturday with a 3-0 victory over underdog Wasatch Academy at Juan Diego High School.
Today they'll battle Manti for the state championship at Rio Tinto Stadium at 1:30 p.m.
"Gotta play a full 80 minutes this year, possess great and we'll be set ready to win," said Donlevy.
Donlevy got St. Joseph going with a pair of goals in the opening 30 minutes, and then his cross led to a Wasatch Academy own goal early in the second half that crushed the Tigers' hopes for a comeback.
"David is just a phenomenal finisher. He always finds a way to tuck the ball away. He is a natural finisher. I believe when he gets the ball at his foot he's going to put it away," said St. Joseph coach Derek Tate.
Wasatch Academy came out with a very aggressive approach, and it took St. Joseph a bit to settle into its passing game on the football stadium turf. Tate told his players to be patient and knock it around and eventually their opponent would tire.
That seemed to be the case in the 20th minute when Donlevy volleyed in a free kick from Adam Brodstein and when he scored again on a clinical breakaway finish in the 28th minute.
"I think we came out a little sluggish at first and weren't prepared for the heavy pressure at the beginning, and then we got into our rhythm and I thought we took control of the game," said Tate.
In today's championship, if St. Joseph can take control of the match it hopes the experience gained last year will push it over the top.
Leading Waterford 1-0 in the 77th minute at Rio Tinto Stadium last year, St.. Joseph surrendered two goals in those final three minutes in a stunning defeat. Redeeming that loss has been the motto for St. Joseph all year.
"We were so young last year, started three freshman and six sophomores. They're still pretty young. It was hard for them, and they didn't have the maturity last year to finish it off. They've learned a lot," said Tate.