West Boca soccer wins district title behind Raul Calvi’s hat trick
Alex Peterman | Special for La Poste
WATCH: West Boca Boys Football Celebrates District Championship
West Boca Bull eliminated Dwyer in a dramatic district final on January 31, 2023 at Palm Beach Gardens.
Alex Peterman, Special for The Post
PALM BEACH GARDENS — Raul Calvi’s hat-trick powered West Boca Boys’ football on top-seeded Dwyer on Tuesday night, helping the Bulls clinch a district championship title.
Calvi gave his team a 1-0 lead just seven minutes into the game when the Panthers keeper rushed off his line to clear but sent the ball straight into midfield.
The Bulls’ senior frontman added two more to his tally in the league game, each demonstrating both finesse and power – and reaffirming the belief that he is one of the county’s top talents for many.
Dwyer (11-6-1) fought back not once, but twice, between Lucas Cohen’s early equalizer and Roy Quest’s strike in the final quarter as the pressure mounted.
But despite a handful of quality chances, they couldn’t find the finishing touch in the final minutes of the competition, leaving the top seed at risk of missing out on regional play.
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West Boca (6-5-4) will be waiting for their next opponent, but for now celebrations are at hand.
Here are three takeaways from Tuesday’s district final game.
1. Calvi supports the attack, leads West Boca to victory
It took Calvi around an hour to take his season tally from six goals to nine.
So when asked which of Calvi’s scores was his favourite, West Boca head coach Hassan Jaddaoui certainly had several options to choose from.
In the end, he chose his star midfielder’s second strike.
“It was an individual effort, and he pulled it out of nothing,” Jaddaoui said. “Fantastic goal.”
The goal in question was a sight to behold – as Calvi ran downfield he latched onto the ball, maintained possession in the face of pressure and managed to create enough space on a touchline to shoot home 25 yards.
“I received the ball outside the 18,” said Calvi. “I was able to dribble the six, find the space right behind the centre-back and the six. After that dribble I already had in mind what I wanted to do, so I cut to the right, had a great shot and luckily he got in.
When his shot found the net, there was a gasp that rocked the crowd, and for good reason.
Along with his other two scores, Calvi gave Dwyer’s defense all they could handle, and with it, a win in one of the biggest games of his high school career.
“It’s great,” he said. “That’s all I wanted. Of all the practice, of all the effort, we gave it our all. That’s exactly what we had to do, and that’s it.
2. Dwyer criticizes FHSAA for handling semi-final penalties
At the start of Tuesday’s game, the Panthers fielded two backup players in place of key starters.
Indeed, Thiago Solis and Elio Rios-Doss received red cards in addition to the head coach, who he says was punished for questioning an official’s decision and later handed over his duties as coach. coach to his assistant in Tuesday’s final.
“My honest opinion is that the FHSAA and the Football Referees Association should be absolutely disgusted for allowing what happened in our district semi-finals, for punishing the way they punished us” , Dwyer’s head coach Ahmad Abukhalil said.
“They should be ashamed of themselves,” he continued. “They really robbed these two teams of a great game.”
The Panthers fought back to early deficits with a pair of goals, but couldn’t overcome the pressure from the Bulls without their full roster of players.
The post-game scene for Dwyer’s bench touched the heart.
The loss hurt, and certainly the team felt that the circumstances should have been very different. In the emotions that followed the loss, an assistant coach threw the second-placed trophy as the players huddled together in dismay.
The Panthers don’t yet know if the revamped seeding will allow them to play in the regional playoffs, but Tuesday’s game anyway, Abukhalil said, doesn’t define their team.
“I don’t think tonight is indicative of the kind of season we’ve had,” he said. “At the end of the day, football is a cruel game for some and a beautiful game for others. Today was beautiful for West Boca and cruel for Dwyer.
3. The former Bulls assistant coach takes the reins at the request of the players
Hassan Jaddaoui hasn’t been West Boca’s head coach for very long.
After the former coach left to leave the state following a family situation, several players, including Calvi, asked Jaddaoui to become the next head coach.
And of course, as expected, the answer was . . . no?
“I said, ‘No, I’m done with high school football,'” Jaddaoui said. ” They came back. . . I couldn’t let them down. I looked at the whole team and said, ‘You know what, these guys deserve a coach’, so I jumped in. And I’m glad I did.
Now, months later, the Bulls are district champions and Jaddaoui is still drying his clothes from the vicious Gatorade bath.
“We asked our children to give their all,” he said. “It’s a league game so having this opportunity means you have to leave it on the pitch. And every one of them stood up. Raul was at the forefront of their leadership. I’m happy for him and I’m happy for the whole team.
After leading his team to a district title, the celebrations can only last for a while. The regionals, after all, are fast approaching.
But it’s a prospect that excites both Jaddaoui and his players.
“We don’t know who we are going to play against,” Jaddaoui said. “But no matter who shows up, our boys are going to step up and do what they love to do – play football in the best way we know how.”