Defense has been the backbone for Juan Diego all year, and it shined once again in the 3A playoffs. The Soaring Eagles completed their championship run Friday without surrendering a single postseason goal.

“The shutouts have been amazing. These guys, five goals were scored on them the whole year. Defense is key, and it does win games,” said Juan Diego head coach Joe Baca.

While the Soaring Eagle defense shined, the offense struggled in the team’s 1-0 victory Friday over Morgan.

The Trojans held possession of the ball for the majority of the game. Juan Diego had trouble on its offensive attacks and on every Soaring Eagle attack Morgan was eager to get the ball back on the other side of the field.

Finally, in the last few minutes of the first half, Juan Diego’s Hauroa Morgant scored off a free kick to the top right corner.

“I just took it, and it went in. There’s not an explanation for it,” said Morgant. “It means everything, we work hard. We worked so hard since the beginning of the season.”

He continued, “We created a relationship together. Like I said, we’re brothers right now and it paid. I’m really grateful for them, I’m really grateful to have them.”

“Man, we’re a family. I love all of them, they’re like my brothers.”

Juan Diego’s defense continued to work hard in the second half as Morgan was relentless during its attacks.

The Soaring Eagles employed a strategy to continuously substitute players to keep their legs fresh. The win truly took a team effort.

“Any time we made a sub nothing fell,” said Baca. “They continued to step up. The subs came in and did their part. The midfield stepped back and did their part.”

He added, “The last six minutes, they were getting tired. This field is wide. We’re going to play some defense and just try to get our one forward the ball. Great decision, the coaches make the decision and players execute and we win.”

Juan Diego had to fight until the final seconds to hold off a Morgan goal. The Trojans had multiple chances in the final minutes, including a saved shot in the final 10 seconds.

Coach Baca’s message was clear: Teamwork pushed the Soaring Eagles over the top in the 3A championship match.

“Cohesiveness and humbleness, again people coming off the bench not complaining about their time,” said Baca. “The boys communicating, they’re familiar with each other, some of them play outside of high school so that helps build chemistry.”

He continued, “We just got to put it in place as coaches to make sure that it continues to work that way and today they executed as best they could to take that trophy home.”

Friday evening’s win was the first 3A title since 2016 for Juan Diego, and Baca’s first as Soaring Eagles head coach.