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DRAPER — Layton Christian's Frank Dufitumukiza didn’t play as much as he wanted in the Eagles’ Class 2A state soccer semifinal.
All he needed to make a difference was the final minute, though.
Playing out of position on the left wing, Dufitumukiza tallied the game-winning goal with 15 seconds left in extra time to help Layton Christian survive Millard 2-1 Thursday at Juan Diego Catholic High School.
"I didn't have much playing time, so I wasn't happy about it," said Dufitumukiza, a regular midfielder who was inserted as a late sub on the wing. "But when I got subbed, I looked at the clock and saw I had one minute to make something happen. I know they like to cross the ball, so I had to go and give it my all. It was my answer."
After a tiring and ruthless 80 minutes, both teams were cramping up — including Millard's Jose Ramon, who scored the equalizer in the 62nd minute after LCA led from the third minute.
But Dufitumukiza wasn't tired. On the contrary, he had something to prove — and with the faintest time remaining, he sent LCA (17-1-1) into Friday’s state championship at Rio Tinto Stadium against Rowland Hall with a masterful header that sailed over the goal line with the slimmest of margins left on the clock.
"It's not my position and I don’t like to head," Dufitumukiza said. "I just gave it my all."
Leandro Marques helped Layton Christian take a 1-0 lead just three minutes into the match, ripping a shot after Millard defended a corner kick into the top shelf. Marques’ shot ricocheted off a Millard defender, but the slight touch wasn’t enough to deflect it off the frame and prevent the Region 16 champion Eagles from taking the lead.
It was a good start, but one that might've caused Layton Christian to take its foot off the gas, LCA coach Chris Tatro said.
"We didn't give them enough respective in the beginning and they had a leg up on us," Tatro said. "Our guys just worked on possession and moving the ball around, trying to exploit that defense."
Ramon pulled one back for Millard in the 62nd minute, finishing a through-ball from Alex Wall just under the crossbar with 18 minutes left to play.
It was Millard's only shot on target of the second half. It was enough to force extra time. But it wasn’t enough to top its third-straight private or charter school
"We knew they would probably score; at this level, you have to expect a score or two from each team," Tatro said. "So we just need to keep our heads high and don’t lose your cool if they do score.
"Let's just go back and tie it up, or catch it."
Rowland Hall 2, Beaver 0
DRAPER — Rowland Hall's boys soccer team felt like it just needed one goal to find itself back in the 2A soccer title match for the second time in as many seasons.
Beaver goalkeeper Brody Pullman wasn’t going to make it easy.
But in the end, the Winged Lions got two.
Charlie Retzer scored twice and Ben Kanter made them stand up to help Rowland Hall past the Beavers 2-0 in a state semifinal at Juan Diego.
"The keeper was awesome. You don't get that far without having a tremendous keeper, a good team and a great coach," Rowland Hall coach Scott Langone said. "They've done it two years in a row (in the semifinals), so it’s a good group. But our mentality was just to keep plugging away. Live for one play at a time, and just keep going."
Just moments after the Winged Lions (15-2) put a shot off the crossbar, Pullman proved his worth by stopping a point-blank shot at the goal line that miraculously stayed out of the back of the net.
Time and again, the shot-stopper was up to the task — even as Rowland Hall loaded the Beavers' defensive third with pressure.
Retzer found an inch of space with two minutes left in the half, though, finishing a counter-attacking cross from Jesus Lamas that gave the Region 17 champs all the space they would need against the Beavers (11-4), despite an outstanding goalkeeping performance.
"He played an awesome game … but we had so many shots, it was only a matter of time before one went in," Retzer said. "Overall, he did really well. It was fun playing against him.
"We just had to stay to our game plan, possess the ball, and when we had our chances to finish them. We were lucky enough to be able to put two away."
Just for good measure, the sophomore added another goal in the 76th minute, securing a brace with four minutes to set a date with Layton Christian.
"I personally have never played against LCA," Retzer said. "They're a really good team, and we’re excited for that matchup."