American Fork • After an 0-2 start in Class 5A’s toughest region, Pleasant Grove soccer coach Chris Ecalono felt like he needed to try something different.
So, Thursday he walked into practice, and shortly after, he and his assistants strategically walked out.
"It was a shock when they said they were going to walk out and let the captains run practice," senior Ryan Fonseca said. "I was like, ‘What? Are you guys crazy?’ "
Ecalono’s logic was simple: "Being 0-2 in region, we have the talent, why not try this?"
The hope was that the Vikings (2-6, 1-2 Region 4) would take the players’ only practice as an opportunity to work out their issues and "come together as a team," Ecalono said.
It worked — at least for a day.
The Vikings broke their losing streak Friday at American Fork (4-4, 0-4), erupting for a 4-1 victory that was highlighted by three first-half goals and a relentless attack from the visitors.
"It sounds like a cliché: ‘We came together as a team,’ " Ecalono said, "but we actually did that."
Ecalono is in his first season coaching at Pleasant Grove, and he has a tough assignment. The Vikings entered the game with just one win, and they were coming off losses to Region 4 favorites Lehi and Bingham. After pushing Lehi, a state favorite, to double overtime, the Vikings lost 5-0 to Bingham on Wednesday.
"After the loss to Bingham, we were pretty down on ourselves," Fonseca said.
There was no chance of that Friday. While American Fork perhaps possessed the ball more than Pleasant Grove, the Vikings hammered the Cavemen with long balls.
The Vikings went up 3-0 in the first half on goals by Alex Muniz — a dazzling blast from beyond the 18-yard box, Alonso Galicia and Nathan Spencer. Spencer’s goal came on a penalty kick late in the first half that was set up when Fonseca drew a foul in the box.
In the second half, the senior knocked in his own goal.
When the game was over and Ecalono’s experiment validated, Fonseca said, "We wanted to prove to our coaches that we could do it."
Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.