Jaguars exceed expectations
Jun 05, 2017 03:19PM ● Published by Greg James
The 2017 West Jordan High School boys soccer team has several reasons to be excited about this season. (Tao Tran/West Jordan soccer)
The seniors on the West Jordan High School boys soccer team had won two games in their entire high school careers. The team never gave up and tasted some success this season.
“I am extremely pleased with the boys and their efforts this season,” Jaguars head coach Tao Tran said. “They have worked extremely hard and have played extremely well. We had some great games and a great season. Our freshman finally became seniors and matured and finally understood what we wanted to do. Mostly they had a great desire to do something different this year.”
The start of the season seemed to be destined to repeat the past. An opening match 0-0 tie with Herriman and losses to Box Elder, 3-0, and Desert Hills, 1-0, made the team think it was headed toward another rough season.
That’s when things changed. Shazer Sloan scored the team's first goal of the season against Hunter. Then senior Logan Brinton held tight in goal and secured a shutout. The Jaguars captured a 1-0 win over Hunter. The victory was the team's first in three years.
“It felt good to win,” Brinton said. “We really did not know what it was like until this year. Our last game of the season (a 2-1 loss to Copper Hills) was disappointing, but we had a great season.”
The team's initial win vaulted them to another, a 3-2 victory over Riverton. Senior Jojea Kwizera notched all three goals for the Jaguars. They overcame a 2-1 deficit before earning the hard-fought win.
“The nine seniors were the leaders of the team,” Tran said. “They played and worked together. They knew this was their last year together, and they started off prepared.”
Brinton recorded four shutouts, a school record. Tran said he could not have done it without his teammates.
“He is one of the keys that made the difference, but there were many players that all played important roles,” he said. “It is not about one player; it is about the entire team doing a great job. It is about the balance of the team coming together at the right time.”
The Jaguars’ playoff hopes came down to the final match of the season against crosstown rival Copper Hills. West Jordan held a 1-0 lead at halftime, but Copper Hills mounted a furious comeback and tied the game on a goal that sneaked past the Jaguars. A late-game Grizzly free kick secured their victory.
The loss meant the team fell just short of a playoff appearance.
“We have called Region 3 the region of death; it is a tough region,” Tran said. “There are excellent teams—very fast and technically very good. The momentum definitely swung to our opponents in the final game. They had some energy.”
Kwizera led the team with nine goals. He had two hat tricks (three goals in a single game), the first against Riverton and the second against Taylorsville.
“It was the right mix of players this season,” Tran said. “We had good defense, good midfield and good forwards. The passion and desire they had was unbelievable. They wanted to win. Last year, we had no wins, but they had a desire to progress, and it paid off this year. The desire and dedication is incredible. I appreciate them very much.”