SPANISH FORK There isn't much Rowland Hall needs to do to fire up its offense these days. Once the Winged Lions find a way to get the ball to leading scorer Jared Accettura, he takes care of the rest.
American Leadership Academy could do little to stop the potent Rowland Hall junior. For the second straight game, Accettura netted a hat trick to propel the Winged Lions past ALA for a 3-0 victory in the 2A boys soccer semifinals Friday.
Rowland Hall will face St. Joseph, which survived an upset bid from South Summit, in today's 2A championship game at Timpview High.
With six goals in three games, Accettura is tied with St. Joseph's Oliver DelCarlo for the most goals in the 2A tournament so far. Rowland Hall coach Bobby Kennedy said Accettura can score so well because he stays composed when he's around the goal box.
"I said to him in the beginning that he's good for a goal a game," Kennedy said. "If we don't give one up, he's going to find his way to put one in."
Finding ways to score certainly wasn't an issue with Accettura.
He punched in his first goal about 10 minutes into the second half on the tail end of a drive into the box. Boyce Weber slid in front of Accettura but could not impede him. He stutter-stepped over Weber and fired at the far post, burying the ball in the corner of the net.
Accettura made it 2-0 in the 69th minute when Robbie Hull fed the ball to him down low and the junior kicked it high enough to push it through the fingertips of goalkeeper Jared Chichia.
His third goal came only two minutes later when he capped off another drive into the box by putting the ball in the back of the net.
Accettura's abilities to produce quickly erased a first-half where Rowland Hall struggled to create solid scoring chances.
"It was a little tight in the first half, " Accettura said. "They're obviously a good team, so we knew weren't going to come out here and destroy them. But we had to keep working to get chances and eventually convert one of them."
Helping Rowland Hall's cause was a defense that produced its ninth shutout of the season and third straight in the playoffs. There were few times where the Eagles truly threatened to score, and most of those shots were snuffed out by the backline before they even reached goalkeeper Felipe Saltz.
After outscoring opponents 13-0 to reach the championship game, Accettura makes no secret about the defense having the biggest hand in the team's success.
"We've been really relying on our defense this whole year," he said. "We're playing St. Joseph and they beat us twice, so our defense and offense are going to have to keep working like they're working right now, if we're going to keep going."<Rowland Hall had success against St. Joseph in the playoffs a year ago, downing the Jayhawks in the semifinals before losing to Waterford in the inaugural 2A title game.