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A Utah high school soccer team says fans’ disparaging comments were their biggest challenge in winning a state title

Plus, recapping the championship games of 4A and 2A boys’ soccer.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Layton Christian Academy's Felipe Harada (7) celebrates with teammates after scoring the team's first goal as Real Salt Lake Academy over Layton Christian Academy for the 3A State Soccer Championship title at Rio Tinto Stadium, Wednesday, May 11, 2022. Layton Christian Academy won the title 4-0.

Sandy • The boys’ soccer team at Layton Christian Academy consists mostly of natives from Brazil. It’s evident in how they communicate on the field, with instructions and adjustments shouted in Portuguese.

And all throughout the 2022 season, as the Eagles knifed through first the region and then the 3A state soccer tournament, they’d hear comments from the stands that irked them.

“Everywhere that we go, [at] games where we play and we win, we hear those comments,” senior Enzo Jaques said after scoring a hat trick and leading the Eagles to a 4-0 win over Real Salt Lake Academy High School on Wednesday at Rio Tinto Stadium. “Like, ‘Your visa is going to get expired,’ and stuff like this because we’re [from] out of the country.”

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Layton Christian Academy's Roberto Neto shines and kisses the cleats of Enzo Jaques after Jaques' hat trick to win for the 3A State Soccer Championship title at Rio Tinto Stadium, Wednesday, May 11, 2022. Layton Christian Academy defeated Real Salt Lake Academy 4-0.

But Jaques — who is in his first year in the United States and joined Layton Christian this season — and the rest of the team brush off comments like that. Winning at their level helps. The Eagles lost only three games all season.

“We don’t get really mad at them,” Jaques said. “We understand. We understand we came from outside the country. So we being here and beating them, I think that may be very hard for them. If I was in Brazil and someone go to my country and beat me, I was also going to be upset.”

First-year Layton Christian coach Lucas Almeida said dealing with comments from opposing fans was one of the main obstacles the team had to overcome in order to win the championship.

“Watching basketball, watching football, I feel like sometimes we’re not so welcome by other teams,” Almeida said. “I just told them, ‘You keep your heads straight, but that’s going to be the biggest challenge we face.’”

Almeida added that he heard some comments during Wednesday’s championship game as well.

Jaques scored his third goal in the 79th minute of Wednesday’s game. He also scored in the 61st and 71st, meaning he put away three goals inside of 20 minutes of game time. After he secured the hat trick, he walked over to the Layton Christian fans and made an X with his hands across his neck that he said meant, “I finished the kill.”

Senior Felipe Harada provided Layton Christian’s first goal. He dribbled up the right side of the field, bobbing and weaving, evading defender after defender, then found himself in front of goal and buried a strike into the back of the net in the 16th minute.

Layton Christian won the 3A title in 2018 and the 2A title in 2019. It lost in the 2A quarterfinals in the 2021 tournament, while RSLA High won the title that year.

In addition to the hat trick from Jaques, Eagles senior goalkeeper Guilherme Palacio stole the show on the defensive end. He provided three acrobatic and critical saves throughout the game that helped secure the clean sheet for Layton Christian.

Almeida said his team had been thinking about the championship game since August, and that he told the team it would not only dominate the region, but the entire boys’ soccer landscape.

“All the way through the final, we wanted to prove that we’re the best team in Utah,” Almeida said.

4A

Senior Ryan Woolley provided the golden goal in the waning moments of overtime and lifted Crimson Cliffs to a 1-0 win over Ridgeline and the state title. It’s the first state championship in boys’ soccer for the school.

The Mustangs came into the 4A tournament as the top seed, earning them a bye in the first round. They won a 4-3 penalty shootout over Desert Hills on Wednesday to advance to the championship game.

2A

Rowland Hall eclipsed St. Joseph 2-0 to win its first state championship in boys’ soccer since 2009.

The Winged Lions held a one-goal lead going into halftime and scored late to secure the victory and the shutout.

Rowland Hall beat American Heritage 2-0 on Tuesday to advance to the championship game. It won the state title as the No. 9 seed in the tournament.

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