SANDY — Kids who grow up in the United States idolizing professional sports teams often have dreams of walking in to the batter’s box at Fenway Park, or walking out onto the court of Madison Square Garden, or the end zone of Lambeau Field.
In Europe and South America, kids grow up dreaming of walking out on to the pitch at some of the biggest soccer cathedrals in the world: Camp Nou in Spain, Estadio Santiago Bernabeau in Spain, the Maracana in Brazil, Old Trafford in England, Signal Iduna Park in Germany, the San Siro in Italy, the Estadio do Dragao in Portugal, the list goes on.
This is the dream that most of the kids on Layton Christian Academy’s boys soccer team have had since they could comprehend what a soccer ball was.
Part of it was lived out by walking out of the Rio Tinto Stadium tunnel out on to the pitch for a championship final, Friday’s 2A boys soccer state title game against Rowland Hall.
Another part of that dream sometimes involves hoisting a trophy.
The Eagles did that, too, beating Rowland Hall 2-0 in Friday’s 2A boys soccer state title game to reclaim the throne they held as recently as 2017.
“It’s amazing, best feeling ever,” goalkeeper Matheus Silva said.
LCA (18-0-1) is, of course, not the typical high school soccer team as it comprises players from several different countries including Brazil, the Netherlands, Venezuela, South Korea and the United States.
Soccer is one of the ways the kids come together at LCA and make friends.
“These guys truly love each other like brothers and that right there is what brought them together on the field,” head coach Chris Tatro said.
Just when a slow first half was about to go to the locker room, the Eagles’ leading scorer Rafael Silverio broke the deadlock in the 39th minute for a 1-0 LCA lead.
Until that point, the Eagles had just two shots — neither of them on goal — and Silva had been forced into one save and two vital interventions to prevent scoring opportunities.
“Matheus saved us,” Tatro said.
Shortly after he came on as a substitute, Marco Fransisco slotted in the Eagles’ second goal in the 56th minute, sprinting over to the LCA supporter’s section to celebrate.
LCA was lucky to not see its lead cut in half when a good move down the right side for Rowland Hall produced a wide-open shot at a wide-open goal 10 yards away. The shot eventually landed somewhere in the stands.
“Everybody likes everybody, everybody works hard and that’s why we are here,” Silva said.
One wondered how LCA would play in the state semifinals and finals after breezing past through every region team it faced that wasn’t named St. Joseph.
The Eagles’ final two playoff games constituted two of maybe five games this season out of nearly 20 where they were legitimately challenged.
The Winged Lions presented one of those challenged. LCA rose up to it.
“Everybody’s far from their family so we have to be a family for each other. So that’s why we are champions,” Silva said.