SANDY — The only thing that could keep Judge Memorial's boys soccer team from a state title was a global pandemic.
Armed with an army of young talent, the Bulldogs are back on top again.
Nahuel Batalla scored his first goal of the season, leading scorer John Chadwick added his sixth assist, and Judge Memorial held on for a 1-0 win over top-seeded Morgan to secure the Bulldogs' third straight Class 3A state championship in four years — with only the COVID-19 canceled season in between — Tuesday afternoon at Rio Tinto Stadium.
For Batalla, the freshman's first goal proved to be the difference for Judge Memorial (12-5).
What a time to make a debut.
"It feels fantastic," he said. "I'm so happy right now."
Before head coach Kelly Terrill's arrival at the Salt Lake City-based Catholic school, the Bulldogs had two state titles, coming way back in 1987 and 1989. The tenured Bulldog coach has now tripled that allotment, starting with the 2010 championship and through the current run of three in a row — pandemic notwithstanding.
"Three in four years. I'm just proud of them," an emotional Terrill said after the match. "This is an unbelievable team.
"Maybe this team wasn't always the most talented team. But they have a lot of heart. They're a good group. I'm proud of them."
Terrill's four titles are tied with former Bountiful coach Mike Parker for the third-most in state history.
The Bulldogs nearly bagged the first with about four minutes left in the half, but freshman wunderkind Chadwick's counter attack deflected off the crossbar.
Just 27 seconds into the second half, Chadwick made his mark.
The freshman charged at goal after receiving the opening kickoff, and crossed to an open Nahuel Batalla. The Judge Memorial classmate went up in the middle of the box, and redirected the cross into the back of the net to give the Bulldogs all the advantage they would need against the top-seeded Trojans.
"The ball was perfectly crossed, and I just tapped it in," Batalla said. "John's a really good player, and he does fantastic things. That ball was a beautiful ball … It made my job really easy."
Added Chadwick: "That kind of made the game. And then we just consistently played until the final whistle."
Morgan (16-3) thought it had the equalizer in the 44th minute, but Ty Warner's cleanup off a spilled shot was called back on an offside penalty.
Judge Memorial cracked the Trojans' defense, which has surrendered just 10 goals all year. Five of them, however, came to the Bulldogs, who split with Morgan during the regular season.
From there, it was up to freshman goalkeeper Kolby Sessions, the student protege of former Real Salt Lake legend Nick Rimando who made three second-half saves to earn the shutout and push the sixth-seeded Bulldogs back to the top.
"Everybody has been on lockdown; nobody got past. I was surprised to see Morgan not get a goal. The last time we played them, they got two.
"There weren't that many goals this game, but it was a well-fought game."
Class 3A state championship
Rio Tinto Stadium
Judge Memorial 1, Morgan 0
Goal: Nahuel Batalla
SO: Kolby Sessions