Juan Diego men’s lacrosse takes another state title behind strong defense
The Juan Diego men’s lacrosse team won a tense championship after beating Brighton by one goal with 15 seconds left. (Bob McLellan/Draper)
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By Jesse Sindelar | firstname.lastname@example.org
For anyone who doesn’t believe in the phrase “Defense wins championships,” just talk to the Juan Diego men’s lacrosse team.
The team won another state lacrosse championship this season after beating Brighton in the final by just a goal, behind a stellar defense and a matured offense.
In his eighth year with the team, and fourth as head coach, John Holmes had a lot of confidence in the defense before the season started.
“The season started in February, and by that point, I knew we had a strong defense. It was just a matter of maturing the offense, which was a little inexperienced at the time,” Holmes said.
To mature the offense, Holmes stacked a lot of work in the preseason for the team, playing a lot of preseason games against Utah and non-Utah teams alike.
“The kids worked really hard in December and January to get ready for the season,” Holmes said.
By the time the season came around in February, the team was very ready. And it showed. The team had some crucial earl-season victories against Alta, Judge and Brighton that helped grow the team’s confidence.
However, with three games to go in the regular season, the team dropped a game to American Fork, a game they should have won.
“That game against American Fork was a real test, because after we lost to them, we had to play them two weeks later in the first round of state. That was a real test,” Holmes said.
But the team passed the test with flying colors, crushing American Fork 11-3.
The next test in the playoffs was Corner Canyon at their home field, which the team narrowly squeaked by 11-10.
In the semifinals they faced an undefeated Park City team, whom they had lost to in the regular season.
“(In the semis) we had a game plan to slow down their star player, and it worked as well as it could have, I mean he still got his points, but we slowed him down enough to win in overtime,” Holmes continued.
In the finals, they were matched against Brighton, a team they had beat in the regular season by a modest three goals.
“We expected a tough battle (against Brighton), but I expected a pretty sloppy game. We were down two at one point and the kids could have easily thrown in the towel at that point,” Holmes said.
But no towels were thrown in, and the Juan Diego men’s team got their own two-goal lead, before Brighton tied it back up.
After a mad scrum in front of the Brighton goal with about 15 seconds left, Juan Diego got their winning goal, only needing a faceoff win to clinch it (which they did).
With a state championship fresh on the mind, the team has a bright future ahead.
“Next year will be similar to this year, with a solid defense and an offence in need of some fine tuning. We lost eight seniors, two of which combined for about 80–90 goals this season, but we have a good group of returners and the kids will be working the weights and the sticks all summer long,” Holmes said.
After a fantastic finish to a long season, the Juan Diego men’s lacrosse team has a bright future under the direction of coach Holmes and will be a team to keep a close eye on.