Juan Diego boys soccer on the rebuilding path
The Juan Diego boys soccer team is in the rebuilding stage after the reigning state champs lost in the finals this year to Ridgeline. (Juan Diego Soccer)
The Juan Diego boys soccer team had a tumultuous season to say the least. The reigning 3A state champions went into this season with a lighter roster than before, having lost seven seniors, with only four returning starters.
“(This season) was characterized by chaos,” said head coach Scott Platz. “We had players in and out of the lineup, two different spring breaks to work around, and some inconsistent results.”
Their chaotic season, however, wasn’t enough to deter them from finishing second in their region behind Ridgeline High School, and returning to the state final again.
After their roster had been depleted from last year, losing seven senior starters, not much was expected from the team. “We were not given much a of a chance starting the year,” Platz said.
Preseason started out well, with a victory against Uintah and Davis, schools in a higher division than Juan Diego (4A and 5A, respectively). The successful preseason trickled into the season. They won seven of their first eight conference games, trading wins with Ridgeline.
But then they got a wake-up call. After being tied 3-3 in the first half of their next conference game, Ben Lomond scored in overtime to hand them their second conference loss of the season. “Our first couple of wins had been a little messy. And then we lost to Ben Lomond. That was the wake-up game,” Platz said.
The loss was their last loss of the regular season. The team then marched straight to the finals, where they eventually lost in double overtime to, again, you guessed it, Ridgeline.
While the loss was a painful one, especially to a bitter season rival like Ridgeline, Coach Platz recognized the evolution the program has experienced through his 11 years as the head coach.
“The first year I started out, the team was very senior led, which made it hard for me to have a positive impact. Some years we were without a lot of talent,” Platz lamented.
“But about five years ago, everyone, including myself and the coaches, improved and really stepped up. We got some more talent in the squad, and the players really showed me that they wanted to develop the program, and the legacy,” said Platz.
Platz mentioned that this development has apparently lasted. A few alumni called him the day before the final to wish the team luck, and to let him know they planned to attend the final and cheer their old team on.
This mindset is essential for future development of the program.
“Luckily, this year we only had four seniors, compared to last year (seven). But the current players, they are good, and they really have shown me that they want to be a part of the program, for the long run,” Platz said.
After losing seven starters and having a turbulent season “characterized by chaos,” the team was not given high hopes this season. However, they took those hopes as high as they would go, which ultimately ended in a heart-wrenching defeat in the final.