Prep boys' lacrosse: Grieving Juan Diego rallies around success on the field
Draper • This was supposed to be a story about how the migration of dominance in boys' lacrosse in the state has continued south and landed firmly in Draper, where defending Division I state champion Juan Diego reigns.
But what began as a magical season took an unthinkable turn two weeks ago when the school lost its second popular athlete in less than a calendar year.
Matt Jungemann, a senior captain and perhaps the most talented player on a skilled defense, died unexpectedly at home March 24. The news shook teammates and coaches alike and brought back memories within the community of the accidental death of Adam Colosimo last summer.
"He was always a bright spot on the field, at practice, at school," Juan Diego coach Patrick Lambert said. "He was a caring individual and a strong mentor to our younger players. And when he was younger, all the older players respected him because he was so talented and worked so hard.
"His loss has really been hard on the team. It's been difficult for them and for all of us."
Lambert said his team wears "FTWL" helmet stickers "For Those We've Lost" and has become closer in the past two weeks.
Jungemann's death came two days after a dominant victory against Logan another in what has become a long list of one-sided results. And the team has continued to pile up victories in the aftermath of losing a teammate.
Each of its first five wins were by at least 10 goals, including a 16-6 thumping of Catholic school rival Judge in the schools' annual St. Patrick's Day meeting.
The Soaring Eagle thumped defending Nevada state champion Palo Verde 10-3 as part of a three-game road trip during spring break. The team bus broke down during the drive south and caused a 2Â½-hour delay.
"We pretty much pulled in and were playing the game," said Lambert, in his 11th year with the program. "It was a tough trip for the boys."
Juan Diego improved to 7-1 entering the week after a 7-6 victory against Alta last weekend in a rematch of last year's state championship game.
"We definitely have a big target on our back, but we're not letting that get to us," senior midfielder Nick Grogg. "We're trying to stay under the radar as much as possible. Be modest and play our game."
Grogg is one of nine seniors on the roster and part of a core group of players who has spent a decade in the Juan Diego lacrosse program.
"We've got a lot of experience," Lambert said. "When the game's going on, they aren't nervous out there. We don't have early season jitters. My experienced guys are helping my younger guys feel comfortable.
"We've got guys with a real high 'Lax IQ.' They watch lacrosse, they love being around it. With that, you get a lax-savvy player."
The Soaring Eagle have been dominant at both ends of the field, scoring almost at will on offense and locking down opponents in front of their own goal. Juan Diego is the unanimous No. 1 team in the Epoch Lacrosse Coaches' Poll.
Lambert said the victory against Judge was the first real sign his team was for real.
"We knew we had a solid team already," Lambert said, "but when we're playing well, we're tough to beat."
On the Mend
Juan Diego's lacrosse team mourned the sudden death of senior captain Matt Jungemann last month.
The Soaring Eagle have won three of four since, including a 7-6 victory against Alta in a rematch of last year's state championship game.
Juan Diego is the top-ranked team in the state.