WEST JORDAN — Trailing 2-1 at halftime of the Division I boys lacrosse state championship game, Juan Diego wasn't worried. The defending champion had been there before, and even though it was facing a good Lone Peak team, it knew it was just an adjustment or two away from breaking the game wide open.
“We are kind of a second-half team. We knew we (would) get some more energy at halftime,” senior Tommy Maddox said.
That's exactly what happened.
Maddox, an academic All-American, led the charge, scoring two of his three goals in the third period to lead the Soaring Eagle to an 8-4 victory in the championship game.
Maddox started a third-quarter run with an equalizer just 85 seconds into the second half. That score opened the floodgates as Juan Diego scored five unanswered goals in the third quarter, bookended by another Maddox score, to take a commanding 6-2 lead.
Juan Diego finishes its title season 20-1, with the only loss coming to Henderson (Nev.), which won the state title in Nevada.
Coming back from a small deficit was insignificant compared to the adversity the team faced earlier this season when superstar team captain Matt Jungemann died on March 24.
“The boys stuck together and I think they recognized, 'Let’s give ourselves a home-field advantage. Every practice let's be the biggest support to each other, and if we see some of our boys dipping down we need to help build them up,'” said Juan Diego head coach Patrick Lambert. “I’m just so incredibly proud of their effort.”
Lone Peak made a late rally in the fourth quarter, scoring twice in just over a minute on goals from Josh Stout and basketball star Eric Mika. But the Knights didn't get any closer as Juan Diego’s Nick Grogg sealed the victory with two goals of his own in the final minutes.
The Knights were able to control possession for much of the game and had more shot attempts, but they were done in by Juan Diego goalie Riley Rose. Every time Lone Peak was able to get a solid look at net Rose was there to stifle the opportunity.
“That’s a totally different game if we don’t have a brick wall there blocking shots,” Lambert said of Rose. “What an effort he gave tonight.”
Earlier in the day at Copper Hills High School, Waterford defeated Syracuse 6-4 in the boys D-II championship. In girls action, American Fork took down Lehi 11-7 in the D-II title game and Skyline sneaked by Park City 10-9 in the D-I championship.
Kraig Williams is a 2010 Utah State University graduate and regular Deseret News sports blogger. He can be followed on Twitter @DesNewsKraig.