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Enzo Jaques hat trick leads Layton Christian’s 3A boys soccer title-game romp

By Patrick Carr - Standard-Examiner | May 11, 2022
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Layton Christian boys soccer players Roberto Neto, left, and Enzo Jaques, left, celebrate a goal scored by Jaques in LCA's 4-0 victory in the 3A state championship game Wednesday, May 11, 2022 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
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Layton Christian boys soccer players Guilherme Palacio, left, and Roberto Neto, right, embrace after LCA won the 3A state championship game Wednesday, May 11, 2022 at Rio Tinto Stadium.

SANDY — For a while in the second half of Thursday’s 3A boys soccer state championship game at Rio Tinto Stadium, fans from the north side of the stadium chanted “R-S-L!” in support of the Real Salt Lake Academy charter high school team.

Then Layton Christian Academy senior forward Enzo Jaques scored to put the Eagles ahead 2-0 with 19 minutes remaining in the game.

Those “R-S-L!” chants were replaced with “L-C-A!” chants after Jacques’ goal, which he celebrated by bowing theatrically in the direction of the Griffins’ fans and then the Griffins’ bench.

The Brazilian transfer wasn’t even close to done. Jaques scored a second goal, which took a huge deflection on its way into the net, then a third goal with 20 seconds remaining to complete a hat trick in a 4-0 rout that saw No. 1 Layton Christian crowned 3A state champions in its first season playing in the classification.

After the hat trick, Jaques put his hands around his neck and moved them in a cutting motion. The polite way to describe that gesture is that he was telling the crowd the game was over. Then, midfielder Robert Neto celebrated with Jaques by pretending to shine Jaques’ right foot.

“We’re talking about this game since August, I’m not even making it up, I said we’re going to dominate our region, then we’re going to dominate the other region, which is (Region 15), so all the way to the final we wanted to prove that we were the best team in Utah,” first-year LCA coach Lucas Almeida said after the win.

LCA (17-3) was in 2A when it won its last boys soccer state championship in 2019. The 2020 season was canceled and, in 2021, the Eagles lost to St. Joseph in the 2A playoffs.

They may not have dominated Region 13 per se, but the Eagles did win the outright region championship in their first season playing up a classification, then took out three-time defending state champion Judge Memorial in a state semifinal penalty shootout.

Wednesday’s title game, like the semifinal, matched up two schools with advantages specifically in boys soccer. LCA eventually had no problem with that one.

An LCA attack in the first half looked like it would be an easy clearance for No. 2 RSL Academy until the ball bounced right to Felipe Harada, giving Layton Christian’s No. 7 a goalscoring chance out of nowhere. Harada took full advantage to give Layton Christian a 1-0, first-half lead.

RSL Academy — it’s a charter school that’s run separately from, but still in the same building complex as, the RSL Academy — nearly tied the game with a booming half-volley that LCA goalkeeper Guilherme Palacio did well to save.

Palacio made a handful of good saves throughout the entirety of the game and earned a lot of praise afterward from Almeida and Jaques.

Meanwhile, the Eagles kept their pressure and Jaques rifled in a goal to make it 2-0 around the 60th minute of the second half. Less than 20 minutes later, he completed the hat trick.

“God blessed me, already my first year I got a trophy — three trophies actually with this team, it’s a wonderful team. I love them and I think our union is what made us win today and every game,” Jaques said.

Jaques scored a handful of big goals for LCA this year, including the only goal in a pair of 1-0 wins against Ogden and Morgan in the regular season that secured the Region 13 championship.

“It’s the reason I don’t take him out,” Almeida said of Jaques. “His confidence. He has the skill, but his confidence is up there.”

Jaques, one of dozens of Brazilians on the predominantly international LCA team, credited the blessings of God for the hat trick. The three goals ensured Jaques finished the season with 25.

“We play with joy, we play bonito, we play beautiful so that’s what we love to do. We love to be here, we love to be in the field,” he said.

In Wednesday’s game, the RSL Academy charter school team was technically “the designated visiting team,” which was somewhat humorous given the white seats on Rio Tinto Stadium’s east side that spell out “Real Salt Lake” and which serve as the game’s backdrop.

If Layton Christian wants to, it can claim Wednesday’s title-game win as one that happened in a road game environment.

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