Juan Diego Captures Its First Boys Soccer Title
Jun 09, 2016 10:14AM
● By Ron Bevan
This year’s Juan Diego soccer team celebrates the school’s first boys soccer title in history. The Soaring Eagles capped off an undefeated season with the state 3A title.
By Ron Bevan | firstname.lastname@example.org
It may have been a senior-laden team that pushed Juan Diego boys soccer team to the state 3A championship game, but the closing minutes were saved by the heroics of a sophomore.
Sophomore goalkeeper Martin Kelly stopped a short-range header from a Snow Canyon forward in the waning minutes of the state 3A championship game Saturday, May 14, at Alta High School. The stop secured a 1-0 Juan Diego victory, capping off an undefeated season with the Soaring Eagle’s first boys soccer title.
“This has been a long time coming,” Juan Diego coach Scott Platz said after his first title in 10 years at the helm. “This team worked hard all year and deserve all the accolades they are now receiving.”
Juan Diego set a target on themselves as the team to beat long before they entered Region 11 action. The Soaring Eagles scored 21 goals while giving up only two during the preseason, then stormed through region action with an additional 39 notches, again only giving up two goals. Juan Diego finished the regular season with a 13-0 record, holding 10 opponents scoreless.
Although just a sophomore, Martin was a key part of the 18-0 undefeated season Juan Diego posted. Martin was in the net for the bulk of those games and recorded 13 shutouts.
“[Martin] made the saves when he needed to, but none was bigger than that last one,” Platz said. “He had a lot of help from a strong defense in front of him.”
Martin’s defense was anchored by seniors Woodey Greer and Julien Williamson.
“[Woodey and Julien] have played next to each other for three seasons,” Platz said. “They feed off each other and react as one.”
A formidable trio of midfielders in Brandon Sands, Garrett Albright and David Hurtado helped keep the defense strong while helping transition to the offensive side of the game.
Up front Juan Diego relied on three forwards who all put in 10 or more goals this season. Jered Mariani (16 goals), Ruben Castillo (15 goals) and Michael Digeronimo (10 goals) provided the bulk of the firepower for the Soaring Eagles.
“The big thing about this year was the experience returning,” Platz said. “We basically had seven starters return in the same positions they played last year. The people filling in to the graduated positions also had a lot of experience. For the first time we really didn’t have a weak link. We could go deep into our roster without losing our play style.”
Juan Diego returned nine seniors to this year’s squad. Six of the seniors were starters, while the other three played important supporting roles.
“We have a great senior class that gave us great leadership,” Platz said. ”They were so task driven. They knew what they needed to do and they couldn’t be shaken off their ultimate goal.”
Platz knew the team would be special early on. The returning players had lost in the semifinals last year to eventual 3A champion Dixie. The players returning used that as a means to regroup for this year’s run.
“This group constantly go together to play on the weekends,” Platz said. “There was great chemistry on this team. As a coach with this group it was important to know when to coach them and when to stay out of their way because they knew each other so well.”
Juan Diego entered the state tournament with a 6-1 win over Union, behind Ruben’s three-goal hat trick. A 3-0 shutout over Desert Hills in the quarterfinals set up another semifinal with Dixie. This time the Soaring Eagles dispatched the Flyers with double overtime 1-0 win.
Brandon scored the winning goal in the championship game when, on a free kick, he put the ball in play quickly, catching Snow Canyon’s defense unprepared. Brandon’s kick found the back of the goal before Snow Canyon could react. Juan Diego’s stingy defense allowed the lone goal to hold up.