COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — Any coach who preaches to his players never to quit would appreciate the championship effort at the Utah Lacrosse Association state championship match Saturday night.
Juan Diego battled back from a seemingly impossible deficit to beat Alta 9-8 to claim the boys Division 1 championship at Brighton High School.
Matt Graney scored a goal with 52 seconds left that was the difference. Juan Diego had trailed 7-4 with 10:22 left before mounting its comeback. For the Soaring Eagle, it was the end of an impressive week that saw them beat two-time defending champion Brighton and then claim their first state title in this sport.
"They stepped up. They had a never-say-die attitude,"?said Juan Diego coach Patrick Lambert. "This was a game of ups and downs and it definitely went the distance."
The game was also a rematch of a regular-season contest just two weeks ago that saw Alta win 10-9 in a four-overtime thriller.
This time, Juan Diego led 2-0, then lost all momentum as Alta roared back behind a pair of scores from Weston Cash and Tanner Brown.
Goalkeeper Jake Dunn also turned away several shots and played a role in two Hawk scores with nice passes to midfield that started fast break opportunities.
Alta almost tied the match in the final frantic seconds.
The Hawks got a close shot at Juan Diego's Erik Gronseth, but the ball hit the side of the net as Alta fans, watching from a distance, cheered loudly.
Gronseth then flung the ball far downfield and the Soaring Eagle celebrated.
"It's unreal. I'm still shocked,"? said Gronseth, of winning the title. "They are a fast team and pressured us a lot. But the ball ... it hit the side and I heard the ref blow the whistle, so I knew the (Alta) guy was in the crease. It was real close."?Comment on this story
IN OTHER GAMES:
MOUNTAIN CREST 11, WATERFORD 10: Taylon Niederhauser scored twice, including a goal with 44 seconds left, that sewed up the Mustangs win in the boys Division II title contest. The fourth quarter was played with intensity and was among the most physical of the night. Niederhauser's final goal gave the Mustangs a two-goal lead.
BINGHAM 12, PARK CITY 11 (2OT): Karlie Beech's goal with3:48 left in sudden death was the difference as Bingham captured the girls Division I title. Park City led most of the night and had a 10-7 lead with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Brooke Tate, Olivia Winters and Morgan Judge each had three goals for Bingham. Maddie Haynes scored twice for Park City.
TIMPANOGOS 9, VIEWMONT 8: Jennifer Johnson scored three goals, including the winner with a minute left helped the Timberwolves rally from an 8-5 deficit to win the girls Division II crown. Viewmont led for much of the game and got four goals from Addie Acord.