He scored only one goal last season, yet Jaedon Costa – a youngster who is selfless to a fault – was one of the main reasons why the La Salle Academy boys soccer team captured the state championship.
“He was brilliant,” said Mario Pereira, La Salle’s longtime head coach. “Very smart player.”
They say timing in life is everything. In the case of Costa, the now senior proved to be spot-on when diving into the particulars surrounding his lone goal in 2019, or should we say the only goal that he has netted to date with the Rams.
Flashing back to a Sunday afternoon at Cranston Stadium last November, La Salle was up 1-0 in the second half against Tolman with the state title hanging in the balance. La Salle’s defense had done its job in keeping Tolman off the scoreboard. The Rams, however, were desperately searching for some breathing room.
Enter Costa, a North Providence native who, prior to last season, was switched from forward to centre-back – a position where defense is the primary calling card. As Costa’s goal illustrated, old habits related to his days as a forward can be hard to break.
Fittingly, it was Ian Mackin who helped set the table for Costa to finish with a flourish. Mackin is a fellow member of La Salle’s Class of 2021. Their bond stretches even deeper as both have been teammates with Rams FC Arsenal, a club soccer program.
With 11:28 remaining in the title contest, Mackin sent a cross feed to Costa, who scored to make it 2-0. La Salle went on to post a 3-0 triumph that delivered the program’s 11th state championship.
“Once I got the ball, all I knew is that I had to put it in the back of the net which I did,” said Costa, reflecting on his moment in the sun prior to a recent practice.
Added Pereira, “When you get contributions from the back line where they’re supposed to be defending and they’re actually contributing a piece to the offense, it’s special.”
Usually, Costa isn’t in the mix when La Salle is generating scoring chances. Typically, you’ll find him doing the dirty work in the hopes of reducing senior goalie Aidan Figueira’s workload.
“I was thinking to myself that usually I cover people. Now someone had to cover me,” said Costa. “I saw an opportunity and took my chance. At the end of the day, it was a team effort.
“It was a great moment,” said Costa when asked how often his mind wandered back to the day when he got off the goal-less schneid while patiently awaiting word on the status of the 2020 season. “At some point you have to move forward and continue to work hard. I don’t know if that opportunity will come again, but I just want to push my teammates so we can work together. Soccer isn’t a one-man sport. You have to work together in order to accomplish a singular goal. If everyone plays their role, you’re going to come out with the win.”
Appointed a captain, Costa certainly embodies the team-first approach that Pereira preaches on a daily basis.
“I have to take ownership and bring everyone together in order to bring out the intensity you need to play with at this level,” said Costa, now in his fourth season as a member of La Salle’s varsity roster.
The decision to have Costa switch positions prior to his junior year was done with some reservation. At 5-foot-9, Costa is being asked to slow down potential goal scorers who have a few inches on him. He compensates the lack of height with strong foot work.
“He’s not the only one sacrificing a little bit, but we need him in the back. To play him out on the flank doesn’t make any sense,” said Pereira. “He covers the field very well. He’s a great leader and a very good soccer player.”
As someone who’s well acquainted with what a forward is seeking to do when he’s charging to the goal, Costa has a sixth sense when it comes to alerting his fellow La Salle defenders of what they should be cognizant.
“Knowing what the [opposing] forward is going to do makes talking to my backline much easier,” said Costa, who credits his father Brian and mother Jacqueline for implementing a can-do spirit in him.
“Ever since I was younger, they always told me that if I wanted it, go get it,” said Costa.
Looking ahead, Costa is eyeing to cap off his La Salle career with what would be his third state title. He also expressed a strong desire to continue playing soccer at the collegiate level.
“He’s come a long way and I think he’s going to be a very good soccer player depending on where he wants to go. He should be able to keep soccer alive through his education over the next few years,” said Pereira.
Regardless of how it all shakes out, it will be hard to top scoring your first high school goal in a championship game.