Judge lacrosse takes 2024 state championship

Friday, Jun. 07, 2024
Judge lacrosse takes 2024 state championship Photo 1 of 3
Sophomore Rome Swanwick scores a goal in the championship game.
By Linda Petersen
Intermountain Catholic

SALT LAKE CITY — Victory was sweet for the Judge Memorial Catholic High School boys lacrosse team on May 24, when the Bulldogs took the state title away from the Sky View Eagles in a 13-8 game.

It was vindication for the Judge program, coach Jeff Brzoska said. Two years ago there was not enough student interest to field a team, and last year the team lost to Sky View 15-10 in the state 4A semifinals.

This year, however, lacrosse took off at Judge, with the school fielding three teams: varsity, JV and sophomore.

“The school got really motivated,” Brzoska said. “Everybody jumped on the Judge train, and we ended up with 54 players.”

It wasn’t just the numbers that improved, he said. “Last year, honestly, we were just a bunch of freshmen we started,” along with one sophomore. “This year we started nine sophomores and one junior. So, it was just you know, we got bigger, faster, stronger, and the kids worked their tails off in the offseason. They went big in the weight room. They went hard on the field.”

This year, “The season was great,” Brzoska said. “We tried to put together the hardest schedule we could, and we just let the boys go out there and play.”

The strategy worked: Judge went undefeated in region and was the top seed at the state tournament. Eight players were named to the All-Region team and another five players received places on the second team and the honorable mention list.

In the first round of the state tournament, the Bulldogs routed the Hillcrest Huskies 22-2. They followed this with a 14-5 semifinal performance against Green Canyon.

In the May 24 state final game at Zions Bank Stadium, they faced off against their 2023 nemesis, Sky View. Thanks to a lot of preparation, the game could not have gone any better, Brzoska said.

“We came in with a really, really good game plan; we knew who Sky View was – a big, big, strong team,” he said. “The coaches got together; we watched a lot of film. We put together a really sound game plan and we really liked our chances.”

Despite that preparation, in that final game the Sky View Eagles scored the first goal right away.

‘We got a little bit nervous – a ‘Is this going to be like last year?’ – but honestly, next thing I know the kids just took the chains off and they just went for it,” Brzoska said.

When the dust settled, Judge had beaten Sky View 13-8.

Victory has been sweet, the coach said.

“This is amazing,” said the second-year head coach. “This is my first time to take a little bit of a leap of faith and do my own program. And so, it feels onto the moon and back. All the credit really goes to my coaches.”

The team’s success was also due to the hard work of the whole team, he said. Notable players included seniors Will Yarrish, Sam Cowen and Jack Wood; all three were senior captains. Other standouts were Rome Swanwick, Sean Jerome, Connor Knight, Dylan Krannich and Dallas Mattena, Brzoska said.

“Then there’s so many other kids that just do the dirty work that’s not recognized in the score book, like Matt Evans and Tony Gorman,” Brzoska said. “They’re just a great bunch of kids.”

The future looks bright for Judge lacrosse, he added. “We’ve got some great young talent coming in from our feeder schools; so, looking forward, we have an unbelievable, incredible youth program,” he said. “Honestly, that’s how a program goes: it’s what the youth program can do for you. We just have a fantastic youth program that’s headed up by some incredible parents. And as long as they keep feeding us these players, there’s no reason why Judge can’t remain as one of the top programs in the state once again.”

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