Herriman • Kelly Terrill still had a hold of the piece of paper, and it was folded up tightly in the palm of his right hand. He never let it go. Because as the minutes slowly disappeared off the scoreboard inside Zions Bank Stadium on Saturday night, Terrill was working ahead, just in case.
The Judge Memorial Bulldogs knocked on the door for 96 minutes, begging for someone to seize the opportunity at his feet and pelt the back of the net. But for 96 minutes, the Bulldogs were flummoxed, out of sync at times, handcuffed by their region rival, the Morgan Trojans. Terrill started thinking in the 95th minute, deep into the second frame of extra time.
Who would shoot in penalties?
And in what order?
Morgan had come agonizingly close to pulling the upset, having hit the post just a few yards from goal, and Judge forever will be grateful that midfielder Jaime Galindo was in that right spot to clear away what would’ve been a golden chance to follow up.
So Terrill got to thinking after that scare, but he didn’t have much time to finish the theoretical list.
In a flash, attacking midfielder Cameron Lundy received a ball over the top and saw teammate Joe Paul flying down the right side of the field. Lundy, just as he has for all their seasons playing together, took a deep breath and put the ball where only the speedy winger could arrive on scene first. And Paul did, having eradicated all the missed chances he had throughout the match, firing a right-footed shot into the back of the net.
In the 97th minute, Joe Paul delivered another state title to the Judge campus as the Bulldogs bested Morgan 1-0 in the Class 3A state championship. It’s the first 3A crown for the Bulldogs since 2010.
“This one connected beautifully,” Lundy said recalling his pass. “I knew he’d get this one, for sure.”
“For years, we’ve been playing like that,” Paul said about his relationship with Lundy on the field. “I’m just the one to finish it. Give him the credit.”
Paul wanted this game, too. He wanted Morgan. He said so after Judge punched its ticket to the championship match Friday afternoon. The Bulldogs, Paul said Friday, didn’t want the easy way out. They wanted to go through their toughest 3A opponent this season to prove their own mettle. And the Trojans gave them all they could handle.
“The finals are always difficult,” Terrill said, “no matter who you play.”
Judge learned that lesson once more.
The Bulldogs had countless opportunities in the first and second half to create a comfort zone, to notch the first goal of the night and go from there, but Morgan stood tall throughout. When the Trojans got the match to extra time at 0-0, Paul said he rallied his teammates by saying that they weren’t going to let the match go to penalty kicks.
“Tensions were high,” he said. “We had to keep our composure.”
The Bulldogs responded when it mattered most. Galindo’s clearance gave Judge renewed life, which it capitalized upon two minutes later in championship fashion. Judge ends its season on a 13-game winning streak, the last victory a perfect finish to its memorable season.
Terrill, still soaking in the title, couldn’t remember what advice he offered his players before extra time began off the top of his head. Then it suddenly came to him.
“I told them that I love this team no matter what happens,” he said. “That’s what I told them.”
Terrill held that folded up piece of paper in his right palm, blessed with an anecdote in a storybook ending he never should grow tired of re-telling again and again.
JUDGE MEMORIAL 1, MORGAN 0 IN OT
• Judge Memorial wins its first state title since 2010.
• Joe Paul scores the game winner in the second overtime session.
• Judge Memorial ends its season on a 13-game winning streak.