SALT LAKE CITY — Heading into the season, the 2A classification looked to be a three-way battle between the defending champion Waterford Ravens, the rival Rowland Hall Winged Lions and the Layton Christian Academy Eagles.
After all, those three teams together had dominated the classification in recent years, with Waterford having most recently walked away as state champions.
Additionally, each of the three programs made it to the semifinals a season ago, and brought back enough contributors to suggest that they were in the running for this year’s state title.
After region play came to a close over the weekend, those preseason prognostications were proven accurate.
Heading into this week’s state tournament, which begins Wednesday afternoon at high schools across the state, the 2A championship contenders are Waterford, Rowland Hall and Layton Christian Academy, along with the upstart St. Joseph Jayhawks.
The unbeaten Eagles (14-0-1, 9-0-1) warrant the title of tournament favorite, thanks to their Region 16 title and nearly flawless record.
The Eagles boast the top scoring defense in 2A, having allowed only five goals all season, and thanks to a trio of double-digit goal scorers in Rafael Silverio (17), Frederico Tremonti (15) and Jesus Tomasi (11) have proven more than capable of finding the back of the net, with a classification-best 105 goals in total.
Rowland Hall (12-2-0, 11-1-0) and Waterford (14-1-1, 11-1-0), meanwhile, split their season series, with the Winged Lions earning the No. 1 seed out of Region 17.
Each of the schools boasts one of the top three goal scorers in 2A, Connor Smith (23 goals) for the Ravens and Charlie Retzer (20) for the Winged Lions.
Waterford and Rowland Hall each also boast one of the best scoring offenses in the classification, with 68 (second-best) and 66 (third-best) goals scored this season, respectively.
Outside of the ‘Big Three,’ the Jayhawks are the best bet as far deep playoff runs go.
St. Joseph (8-2-1, 7-1-1) had arguably its best season ever and finished second behind Layton Christian in Region 16, with a draw against the Eagles to its credit.
The top seed out of Region 18, meanwhile, are the Millard Eagles (9-3-0, 8-0-0).