In their four meetings this year, the Judge Memorial and Jordan soccer teams were about as even as two teams could be. Both won twice and both scored seven goals against each other.
Of course, in sports the only thing that matters is what happened last and that was a 2-0 Judge victory Friday afternoon at Bingham High School, giving the Bulldogs their second 3A title in three years.Nathan Semerad and Nat Hildebrand scored the goals for the Bulldogs, who had to postpone their celebration by about 20 hours after losing a 1-0 overtime decision to the Beetdiggers Thursday night.
"Today was do or die - yesterday if we lost we knew we would still play today," said Judge Coach Peter Schenk. "It's a relief, to be honest. It felt like more pressure this year than two years ago."
Like they had in several tournament games, the Bulldogs were a little slow getting started. Perhaps they were thinking about their graduation parties later in the evening (the game was moved up three and a half hours to accommodate the school's graduation ceremonies). But late in the first half, the Bulldogs began to figure out the Jordan defense and got some shots on the Jordan goal.
The first half ended scoreless and during halftime Schenk told midfielder Jason Kelker to roam wherever he wanted. It seemed to disrupt the Beetdiggers, who were playing a man on Kelker. Fifteen minutes into the second half, Kelker got free for a one-on-one against goaltender Ben Cowdell, who came out and stopped the shot. But the ball bounced to the goalie's left and Semerad was there to head the ball into an empty net.
"Jason put up a great shot and I got lucky and was just standing there," said Semerad.
"I meant for it to go in, but I guess I'll just take the assist," added Kelker.
The second Judge goal came with 10 minutes left in the game, when Nat Hildebrand got loose on the left side and fired in a shot from the angle from 20 feet out.
"I saw the ball leak through and the goalie dropped back so I just shot it. I was surprised when it went in," said Hildebrand.
In the final minutes, the desperate Beetdiggers put on a flurry of shots, but Judge goaltender Matt Woolley and the defense, led by Shawn Friar, Chad Mellison and Brian McGinley, met the challenge and kept Jordan out of the net.
"They had some good shots, but give credit to our defense," said Wooley, who is just a sophomore.
"They just beat us to the ball," said a disappointed Jordan Coach Bill Noble. "When we had the wind at our back (in the second half), we didn't take enough shots. I think we ran out of gas a little bit in the second half."