PARK CITY — After a tough fight in the final half, Brighton beat Judge 8-7 to win the Division I high school boys lacrosse championship.
"We knew it was going to be a dog fight," said coach Brandon Horoba after his team members surrounded him and drenched him with water. "When we got ahead early in the game we knew it wasn't a done deal and that they would come back."
Judge had a slow start with zero goals in the first quarter but warmed up as they played.
"We gave up a few goals in the beginning," said Judge coach Dave Allen. "I really wanted the clock to stand still for my team in the last minutes of the game."
That's because it was a close call in the end.
"If we would have had five more minutes we would have taken the game," said Patrick Griffin, a senior who plays attacker for Judge.
But the lead the Bengals built up in the first half was too much to overcome. Brighton scored seven of the first nine goals in front of an announced crowd of 1,762 before the Bulldogs scored two quick goals just before halftime to cut the deficit to 7-4.
"Our strategy was just to play our game," said Horoba. "We have already been successful playing our brand of lacrosse."
In contrast, Griffin didn't feel like Judge strategized enough.
"If we would have met Saturday, which is a day we don't practice, we could have had some more chalk talk," said Griffin. "It would have been nice to have gone over some offensive theories to make sure we were on the same page."
Judge get things going in the second half when Griffin completed the hat trick to cut the lead to 7-6 in the third quarter.
Brighton's Elias Fairman scored early in the fourth quarter for the eventual game-winner. Brian Allen, of Judge, scored to cut the lead back to just one with less than seven minutes remaining in the game, but the Bengals defense held firm.
Brighton goalie Nate Wilkinson said that playing together as a team was the only way they could have had success. When told that his coach felt he had played a great game, Wilkinson responded by praising his fellow team members.
"It was all my defense," said Wilkinson. "We all came together at the end; I couldn't do anything without my team."
Wilkinson admits that he gets nervous for the games but he does go into a game with a simple plan.
"I just try to stop all the balls and don't mess up the clears," he laughed.
Judge and Brighton have both won championships in the past and were ready to win again the teams were a good match.
Each coach expressed that they were facing a tough competitor on Saturday.
In the other championship games:
Alta beat Bingham 12-6 in the D1 girls championship game.
Waterford beat Viewmont 7-5 in the DII girls championship game
Spanish Fork beat Timponogos 8-7 in the DII boys championship game