SALT LAKE CITY — After a disappointing second-place finish in Region 11, Juan Diego (13-5-1) used that as motivation for a dominating playoff run that continued Friday night in a 5-1 semifinal win over Snow Canyon (12-7-1) at Jordan High School.
With the win, the Soaring Eagle have now outscored their opponents 15-3 in the playoffs.
After a three-year absence, Juan Diego is now headed back to Rio Tinto Stadium for the 3A championship game. The Soaring Eagle also got sweet revenge in Friday’s win after losing in a penalty shootout (5-4) to the Warriors last year in the quarterfinals.
“It means everything to me to be going to the championship game,” Juan Diego senior AnnaMaria DiGeronimo said. “I’ve lost some tough playoff games over the years and it’s great to able to keep playing and moving on.”
Snow Canyon’s Brielle Hoskins scored the first goal of the game in the fifth minute to put the Warriors up 1-0.
The junior is always a threat on set pieces and corners because of her height and ability to always be around the ball. Hoskins didn’t disappoint either as she volleyed in the corner kick for the first lead of the game.
“The fast start was exactly what we wanted and looked to do,” Snow Canyon head coach Kenny Kunde said. “We had some defensive letdowns today and the pressure just kept mounting from there.”
When asked if he thought about switching to more of a defensive gameplan after the goal, Kunde admitted that one goal wasn’t going to be enough against the Juan Diego high-powered offense.
“We scored so early that we just wanted to stick with our game plan,” he said. “Juan Diego is too good of a team to just play defense and let them take a lot of shots. I give all the credit to them for coming back and really putting the pressure on us. They can score and score quickly and they proved that tonight.”
But that lead didn’t last very long.
Just one minute later, DiGeronimo tied things up with a goal in the sixth minute after tapping in a cross from Daviana Vaka. Six minutes later, DiGeronimo added her second goal to give the Soaring Eagle its first lead of the game — a lead they would never relinquish.
Juan Diego’s Heaven Kelley had the goal of the game in the 24th minute. The junior made a defender miss and then at the left edge of the box fired a shot into the upper right corner to extend the lead to 3-1.
Then less than a minute later, Vaka tacked on a goal. The sophomore showed great touch as she worked her way past two defenders before firing a shot at the near post that slide underneath a diving save from Snow Canyon keeper Megan Rogers.