SANDY — It was only two games into the 2008 season before St. Joseph soccer coach Alex Salvo knew this year would be different.
"I thought going in that we would be pretty good," he said. "After those back-to-back games to open the season with Uintah and Ogden, both 3A schools, and we didn't give up a goal and beat them both, I knew that we could have a very special year."
St. Joseph capped its special season Saturday afternoon with an 8-0 victory over Millard to claim the 2A state title.
"This is just the greatest thing ever," said senior captain Megan Brandt. "We have played together as a team all year, and to come out and finish it off like this is the best."
It isn't often a championship game ends with an eight-goal difference. It just doesn't sound right. But for much of the Jayhawks' season, it was almost unfair how much better they were than the competition. Including the title game, they completed a goal differential of 30-0 in three playoff games. They never surrendered a goal to a 2A opponent, beat six 3A teams and finished an impressive 18-1. The lone loss came in a close battle to eventual 4A champion Bonneville.
"We are all close as a team and as friends," said the Jayhawks' other senior captain, Jennifer Beaudoin, of why the team was so dominant. "I think we had some pretty good players, and then, when we all go out and play together as a team, it just makes us that much better."
The championship was never really in question. Tauna DeHaan scored in the second minute of action. Freshman Ivee Barton scored the first of her two first-half goals in the 18th minute, and Alex Shaw and Beaudoin each netted one before the break for a 5-0 lead.
Barton's two goals gave her an astounding 36 on the season, tied for the most in the state with Alta's Kealia Ohai. It was not exactly what she had planned coming into her first season of high school soccer.
"I thought I would play some JV and that maybe get a shot for some varsity," said Barton. "Once the season started and I scored a couple times, I realized that I could play at this level. Ever since then, I have just been going out and trying to do my best. Really, most of the credit goes to my teammates for setting me up in good spots."
The same could be true for nearly every St. Joseph score. It was the passing that set the Jayhawks up for all of the goals. Joana Matajasik scored twice in the second half, and Beaudoin netted her second of the game for the final 8-0 scoreline.
"We owe a lot to our two senior captains, Jennifer and Megan," said Salvo. "They gave us the leadership and showed us how to win. But even with those two leaving, we have a lot of young players that did a lot for us this season. Hopefully, this is just the beginning for our team."