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Westlake, Park City win Graduation Cup finals to send seniors out right

Park City’s Connor Campbell (5) celebrates his goal against Morgan in the Graduation Cup championship match in Farmington on Saturday, June 13, 2020.
Park City’s Connor Campbell (5) celebrates his goal against Morgan in the Graduation Cup championship match in Farmington on Saturday, June 13, 2020.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

FARMINGTON — For Westlake’s seniors, getting the chance to play soccer again, and cap it off with a championship, was sweet.

The Thunder won Satuday’s Pomp division Graduation Cup championship, an unsanctioned high school tournament put together after the Utah High School Activities Association’s boys soccer season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thanks to a 3-1 win against Corner Canyon, Westlake now has a trophy to show for its canceled season.

“It’s been kind of special to have the chance to come back and play again,” Westlake head coach Jason Judy said. “There were so many of the boys that were looking forward to the season. They built their whole high school lives up to their senior year, expecting a special senior night, expecting a chance to play in front of the home crowd. For them to have something, as opposed to nothing, is a big deal.”

In his final game in a Westlake uniform, senior Kamden Beck scored the first goal of the game 10 minutes in.

“It was an awesome moment,” Beck said. “It’s hard to explain my excitement when that happened. It just set everything else in motion.”

Senior Zach Lifferth scored two goals on the day, continuing a trend of the senior class showing up when needed.

“They are the ones that have scored for us the last several years up to this point,” Judy said. “That’s who they are, so that’s just what they do.”

As the final whistle blew, the exhaustion on Westlake players’ faces after a hard week of soccer was clearly visible.

“This game was a good game, but we came off a game yesterday with only a 22-hour break. It was our fifth game this week. Many of the starters didn’t hardly sub at all,” Judy said.

That exhaustion didn’t last long, though, as the Thunder hoisted the trophy and dumped the water cooler on their head coach.

“It means everything to us. We put everything into this match, into this tournament, and to come out on top is an unbelievable feeling,” Beck said. “Everything was perfect. The moment, the game, everything.”

It means more to win a championship with a group of friends that has been together for more than a decade.

“We’ve all been friends for 10, 12 years. We’ve known each other, we’ve lived with each other and we knew this was coming. It’s an amazing feeling,” Beck said. “We’re always together, going skating, playing soccer wherever we can.”

In the Circumstance division, Park City took home top prize with a 3-1 win over Morgan. Leading 1-0 at halftime, the Miners scored two quick goals in the second half to break the game open.

Connor Campbell, Isaac Hinojosa and Matias Gonzalez all scored for Park City.

“Since the beginning (of the second half) we said that we had to put it away,” Hinojosa said. “We got those first two goals in the second half and we knew it was game over.”

While it’s not a state championship, he said it always feels good to win a title.

“It feels great to win a tournament like this,” Hinojosa said. “The whole team was giving it 100 percent throughout and it paid off. It feels pretty good.”

Campbell said it felt great to win the tournament for the graduating seniors and send them out right.

“It’s pretty fun,” he said, “just to give the seniors a good way to send them off.”