DRAPER — Juan Diego remembered what happened the last time it met Snow Canyon in the 3A girls quarterfinals. The Warriors knocked off the Soaring Eagle on their home field en route to capturing the state championship two games later.
On Saturday afternoon, at home, Juan Diego played role reversal in its 2-0 win to advance to the semifinals.
“They’re a great side,” Soaring Eagle coach Simon McFall said. “We’ve played them now, I think four times in the last two years. It’s always a dogfight. Every win is a good win, and today we had a freshman and sophomore score. That’s a good moment for kids to step up and really seize the opportunity.”
Juan Diego (11-4-3) found an early lead when Emily Pascua was awarded a penalty kick after tripping was whistled in the box. She hesitated momentarily and buried a top-shelf goal.
Cognizant the Warriors (8-7-2) would approach the second half aggressively, Juan Diego countered with a conservative, defense-oriented scheme in the opening minutes in the second half. On two occasions, Snow Canyon flirted with scoring opportunities. First, on a well-placed shot from long range that ’keeper Melanie Mecham jammed against the crossbar, and then on a fast break shortly thereafter.
“She’s been great all year,” McFall said of Mecham, who deflected the second scoring chance after playing the correct angle. “It’s funny, this is a kid who never played goalkeeper until she got here her first year. She’ll graduate from our school as the all-time leader in shutouts. Mel Mecham has been a helluva player for the last few years, and quite frankly — the heart and soul. She brings life into us everyday.”
Midway through the second half, the Soaring Eagle extended their lead off a corner kick from Holli Chapton. Freshman Sierra DeHart swooped in and booted in her first goal of the season as she tumbled to the turf.
“That worked out. Holli played a great ball. Holli is a senior that goes a little bit under the radar; has done a lot of work for us,” McFall said. “She does all the things that nobody notices. Today she played a great ball and a freshman steps up and tucks that one away, and really I felt sealed the game for us and gave us an opportunity to ride that out.”
Up two goals and enjoying a numbers advantage after Snow Canyon earned an ejection, Juan Diego was content playing ball control for the remainder of the second half.
“I always think the two goal is the most dangerous goal in soccer. The game changes in a minute,” McFall explained. “If they had come back and answered, then that game gets tight and you never know how that’s going to play out. That’s a character win for our girls. Character matters in the way you finish a game, and I thought they demonstrated that today.”
Juan Diego will play Cedar (13-4) on Friday at 6 p.m. at Jordan High. The Lady Reds knocked off Payson, 1-0, on Saturday.
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