High school boys soccer: Hat trick from Enzo Jaques leads Layton Christian Academy to first 3A state title

When the Layton Christian Academy Eagles suffered their third and final loss of the season to the Morgan Trojans on April 19, the team struggled to take chances while the Trojans capitalized on every opportunity that arose.

Head coach Lucas Almeida told his players that they need to pay more attention to the details in order to take advantage of the opportunities that come their way.

Three weeks later, when the top-seeded Eagles took the field at Rio Tinto Stadium for Wednesday night’s 3A state championship game, they did as their coach said and focused on the details.

As a result, they ran away with a dominant 4-0 win over the Real Salt Lake Academy Griffins and took home the school’s first-ever 3A-level championship trophy.

“I told them every time we play in a big game it’s going to be decided by the details,” Almeida said. “It’s the details that win us games. Today we squandered (our chances) and (RSL Academy) couldn’t.”

When a team needs to take their chances, it helps to have a player like Enzo Jaques.

The senior, who emigrated from Brazil to attend the LCA, helped his team finish off the Griffins by scoring a hat-trick in the final 19 minutes of the game and converting the lead from a goal into a quick win for his side .

All of Jaques’ goals came from top center of the 18-yard box, using clinical finishes (although the second goal deflected a defender) to put the ball in the back net.

“I think God blessed me and put his hand on my head,” Jaques said when asked how he managed to score the hat-trick.

“I’m just grateful for everything that’s happened to me.”

The three-goal game gave Jaques a team high with 25 goals this season.

“That’s why I’m not substituting him,” Almeida said of the Brazilian striker. “We believe in him and he believes in himself a lot.

A player like that doesn’t come around very often, so you let these guys play. …He has the ability but his confidence is up there.”

Felipe Harada scored the opening goal for LCA in the 17th minute with a relentless solo effort that saw him dribble through or around three different Griffin defenders before putting the ball in the goal.

Although the end result suggested otherwise, the game was fairly even in terms of scoring opportunities, but the Eagles managed to keep RSL Academy off the board for the 12th clean sheet in 20 games.

Assisted in this were LCA goalkeeper Guilherme Palacio, who made several impressive saves throughout the evening, saves that would have dramatically altered the outcome of the game had they not been made.

The most monumental save came in the 35th minute when RSL Academy’s Karl Weisenfeld volleyed in on goal, only to see Palacio parry a save to knock the ball off the goal frame.

Almeida not only praised Palacio, but also the rest of the Eagles’ defensive backline.

“No matter what, even if we move things around, they’re consistent,” Almeida said. “They fight side by side, they communicate and I wouldn’t trade them for anyone.”

The Eagles have one player each from Serbia and Costa Rica, but the rest of the players are all from Brazil, and despite having rich football backgrounds, the move to Utah hasn’t always been smooth sailing for them.

Jaques said the physicality with which the game is being played in the States has been a difficult adjustment for both him and his teammates.

“We had to train a lot,” said Jacques. “We have football in our blood but the guys here are very strong and they train a lot and go to the gym, which is unusual in Brazil where we only play football, so we had to train a lot to be able to keep up with both strength and Speed ​​of these players and I think we deserve to be here.”

Jaques said he and his teammates get a lot of comments from their opponents suggesting they shouldn’t play here, but said those comments don’t bother them anymore.

Players came to LCA to win games and trophies and that’s what they got on Wednesday night.

Almeida said he knew his team had what it took to win the league game from the start of the season.

“We’ve been talking about this game since August and I’m not even thinking about it, I said we’re going to dominate our region and then we’re going to dominate the tournament,” Almeida said.

“We wanted to prove we were the best team in Utah and that was the goal.”

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