Levi Lopez is proof that hard work pays off.
The American Leadership Academy senior nearly tripled his career scoring output this season in leading the Eagles to the Class 2A boys' soccer state championship. It was the school's first state soccer title in its eight-year history.
He was named The Tribune's 2A MVP for his efforts.
"It shows the hard work that we put in," Lopez said. "Great things can happen. Everyone put 100 percent into it, and our coach was always pushing us. It makes me feel good. Without my teammates, we wouldn't have won."
Lopez, who scored eight goals the previous two years, was one of three Eagle players to score at least 20 goals this season. Brannon Tulley and Cobi Warren were the others, and the trio tied for the seventh-best goal total in the state.
ALA was prolific on offense, outscoring opponents 94-16 overall, which included 51-10 in region. The Eagles lost just one game en route to the state championship a 3-2 defeat to Merit Academy. Lopez was consistent along the way, recording four multi-goal games, including hat tricks against Richfield, Beaver and Summit Academy.
"I was trying to do my best to get the ball in the net," Lopez said. "I would pass it and then receive it back. I always tried to finish. I liked how our coaches put us in the right positions so that can happen. We always played to the whistle."
Lopez often made runs as a center midfielder to support the attack, teaming with Tulley and Warren. With so many options, defenders had their issues.
"They couldn't cover us all," Lopez said. "We tried our hardest to put in the extra effort so we could score goals. We motivated each other."
The Eagles won the 2A West region (9-1-0) before defeating Intermountain Christian, Gunnison, Summit Academy and Manti by a combined score of 19-4 in the playoffs to capture the state title. Lopez recorded a hat trick in the 4-1 semifinal victory over Summit Academy.
Following graduation, Lopez, 17, will submit his paperwork to go on a two-year LDS mission. Upon his return, he plans to try out for some professional soccer teams in Mexico. He intends to pursue a career in criminal justice.