A familiar outfit will line up against the Snow Canyon girls soccer team when the Warriors play in Friday’s 3A state semifinal at Jordan High.
The Warriors and Juan Diego have played each other every season since 2011, including the last four years in the playoffs, with JDCHS winning three of those games.
The results: a 2-0 regular-season loss in 2011, a 1-0 win over JDCHS in the 2012 quarterfinals en route to the Warriors’ state title, a 2-0 loss to the Soaring Eagle in the 2013 quarterfinals, a penalty shootout loss to JDCHS in 2014 and a shootout win over the Soaring Eagle in last year’s quarterfinals.
“They’re one of the elite teams up north in the 3A, they’re always in the playoffs and they’re always well-coached, so it’s not a game that we take lightly,” Warriors head coach Kenny Kunde said.
With the last two meetings coming to penalty shootouts, the Warriors have practiced them more often, usually beginning in the final week of the regular season, Kunde said.
The coaches pick around 15 girls, then narrow it down to around seven or eight players who the coaches are confident can take a penalty should a game end in a shootout. That group practices penalty kicks for around 15 minutes after practice, as was the case Wednesday.
It started in 2011 when the Warriors lost to Ogden in a shootout in the 3A quarterfinals. Kunde said the Warriors weren’t prepared to take penalties at all then, but they have been since.
Even if the match doesn’t get to penalties, the Warriors understand they’ll need to play one of their best games to get bast Juan Diego.
“There’s a lot of nerves and a lot of hype because it is Juan Diego, but we need to play like we usually do,” senior midfielder Serena Lindsey said.
Snow Canyon, which shared a Region 9 title this year with Desert Hills, are one of the younger teams in the region. Their leading goalscorer Heidi Smith is a freshman, and the starting goalkeeper, Megan Rogers, is also a freshman. Their starting lineup is filled with a strong sophomore class.
“We’re young, which I think has them really excited about the opportunity to get there and hopefully that excitement can carry on,” Kunde said.
The obvious alluring prospect is if Snow Canyon wins on Friday, the Warriors would play in Saturday’s final, held in Rio Tinto Stadium, where the MLS’s Real Salt Lake plays.
The current Warriors’ senior class wasn’t part of the 2012 championship team, so they’re also using that possibility as motivation to win on Friday.
“Even talking about it, you can tell it’s big and we just want to make it,” senior defender Jacquel Bozarth said.
Juan Diego has won five of its last six games, including the two playoff games by a combined 10-2 margin. The Soaring Eagle have three double-digit goalscorers: Daviana Vaka (23 goals in 18 games), and AnnaMaria Digeronimo and Heaven Kelley, who both have 11.
Connect with reporter Patrick Carr on Twitter @PatrickCarr_ and on Facebook at Facebook.com/PatrickJosephCarr1/ or call him at (435) 231-3834.