SANDY — The Layton Christian Academy Eagles were nervous heading into Friday night’s 2A state championship game against the Rowland Hall Winged Lions.
The night before, they had been given all they could handle by the Millard Eagles, and that win — an overtime victory — remained in the back of their minds even as they took the field at Rio Tinto Stadium with the state title on the line.
“In the beginning we were a little afraid,” said Rafael Silverio, who was LCA’s leading goal scorer this season. “Yesterday was a hard game and we knew Rowland Hall was a great team.”
As it turns out, they needn’t have been afraid.
The Eagles were a championship team.
Layton Christian defeated Rowland Hall 2-0 Friday night, earning the title of state champions.
Silverio netted his 26th goal of the season in the effort, while Marco Fransisco added a goal of his own.
Eagles goalkeeper Matheus Silva was unbeatable for his part, earning a shutout with his clean sheet, his 14th this season.
“Layton Christian has been riding the wings of the Eagles all year,” Layton Christian head coach Chris Tatro said. “We stood in the sleet and we ran in the snow (this year) and these guys deserve it. They put their heart and soul into everything today.”
It took a significant portion of the game for the Eagles to get on the board, most of the first half in fact.
The Winged Lions made life difficult for the Region 16 champions, who were unbeaten all year.
“It was a hard game,” Silverio said. “They played great.”
Just before the half, the Eagles got their breakthrough, courtesy of Silverio.
The native Brazilian managed to beat Rowland Hall keeper Ben Kanter, who had helped the Winged Lions blank seven opponents during the season.
The goal and the moment in which it was made were enough to make Silverio nearly speechless.
“In that moment I didn’t believe it,” he said. “Then I saw the score on the scoreboard and it sunk in.”
Fransisco added his score early in the second half to give Layton Christian a commanding 2-0 goal lead.
Lindgren’s shot seemed all but certain to find the back of the net, but the effort sailed on him instead.
From there, it was largely Layton Christian, a group of internationals who bonded throughout the course of the season en route to the title.
At least five different languages are spoken on the team, including Portuguese, Dutch, Mandarin, Spanish and Korean, and yet, per Tatro, the Eagles are as close a team as any he’s ever coached.
“I have been here for 14 years, coaching at LCA, and I have never had a group of kids love each other as much as this group,” he said. “There was the 2017 championship group, but they didn't have the bond that these guys share. I know they are going to go back to their countries and they are going to remember this moment and stay in touch with these kids for the rest of their lives.”2 comments on this story
“We are a family and we love each other,” Silverio added with tears in his eyes. “We have been together since August with this goal in our mind and now we have reached it. I don’t know how to describe it.”
It was that familial bond that ultimately lifted the Eagles to the title.
“These guys truly love each other like true brothers,” Tatro said. “That is what brought them together on the field. That is what allowed them to play so well together.”
It is what won them the state championship.