This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Sandy • After suffering back to back region losses to Logan and Morgan in September, Juan Diego wasn't even certain it had what it takes to make the playoffs, let alone make a deep postseason run. One month later, the Soaring Eagle hoisted the Class 3A girls' soccer state championship trophy as they blasted Region 11 rival Logan, 3-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
"This is like being reborn again," Juan Diego head coach Daniel Cavar said. "We've won championships before, but this one is special to the Juan Diego organization, to the girls, to the parents, to the supporters, to the fans; this one goes to them. To come out here and to perform on the best level, on the highest level and still dominate, it means a lot."
The most important piece to the Soaring Eagle's dominant performance over the Grizzlies was sophomore Daviana Vaka. The forward finished her first state championship appearance with two goals as she continually outworked and outran the Logan defenders. Cavar said that his team could not have performed as it did without the youngster making plays.
"Daviana is a hustler, she's the one that takes her game to the next level," Cavar said. "We call her 'nightmare' for other teams. She's a very good finisher and has a big heart towards the game. We're a big family, and out here on the field she's a big part of that family. We all stick together."
The soft-spoken Vaka seemed more surprised than excited that she led her team to a state championship victory.
"I'm really speechless right now," Vaka said. "It's amazing being here in Rio Tinto. I'm just glad to be here."
After Vaka scored her first goal in the 35th minute by shooting around a defender off of a deflected shot, the striker netted her second in the 62nd after initially colliding with Logan goalkeeper Samantha Aguilar. After the collision, Vaka jumped up, found the ball at her feet, composed herself and rocketed in a curling shot that evaded an oncoming defender. Vaka said that offseason conditioning way back in the summer was the key to her play on Rio Tinto's wide field.
"In the summer we ran 120's, I don't like 120's," Vaka said. "But in this game I really needed that, and I just kept going and going."
Daviana wasn't the only Vaka making crucial plays Saturday afternoon as twin sister Laveni also put her stamp on the game. After taking control of the ball outside of the Logan 18-yard box, Laveni Vaka juked a defender before laying off a beautiful angled pass to teammate Elizabeth Blair who put Juan Diego on top with her strike in the ninth minute.
"The main thing we talked about was putting the game away in the first half so that we knew we could dominate in the second half," Laveni Vaka said. "I couldn't shoot from that far out. I thought about it, but I wasn't set up for a good shot so I just looked to pass and found [Blair] out wide. I knew she was going to put it in."
Even with three goals on the board, Juan Diego was still playing a Logan team that had averaged over three goals a game on offense. Yet, the Soaring Eagle backline was able to stave off a majority of the Grizzlies advances, thanks to some key saves from senior goalkeeper Audrey Hall. Early in the first half, Hall was able to fend off a dangerous opportunity for Logan when she was caught deep off of her goal line.
"I saw the shot coming, I knew I had to come out and make a play," Hall said. "I stood back up, she shot it and I lunged my leg out to get something on it."
After the game, Hall deflected praise of her play. Instead, she said the whole team improved the most on the biggest stage, and they're state champions because of it.
"We've improved all the way around," Hall said. "It's not just in one part of the field or just some individuals, we all got better as a team and came together as a team today and we played our hearts out."
Juan Diego 3, Logan 0
R Juan Diego claimed its third 3A state title with a 3-0 win over Logan.
• This is Juan Diego's first state title since 2010.
• Juan Diego went 2-1 against Logan this season.