Andres Lua tried to talk his teammates out of it. It didn't work.
The Le Grand High soccer team gathered around Lua and lifted the senior star off the ground as he held the blue section banner. His teammates hoisted Lua in the air three times, once for each goal.
Lua recorded a hat trick, scoring three goals to help propel the Bulldogs to their first Sac-Joaquin Section championship since 2001 with a 4-2 victory over Waterford in the Division VI championship game on Thursday night at Turlock High's Joe Debely Stadium.
"This means everything," Lua said. "We have a lot of seniors on the team. Last year we came in second place in sections. This year we got it."
The Bulldogs (16-1-2) had to win their semifinal game against Encina Prep without their leading scorer after Lua picked up two yellow cards in the first-round playoff match against Amador.
Lua made an impact in the title game early, as the Bulldogs got off to a fast start against the No. 6 seed Wildcats (16-9-5).
Just 2 minutes into the match, Le Grand's Celestino Garcia sent a free kick into the box that found Julian Moreno at the far post. Moreno deflected the ball into the goal to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead before anybody had a chance to catch their breath.
Le Grand kept the pressure on.
Lua was tripped in the box to set up a penalty kick just 3 minutes later. However, Lua was wide right on his shot.
"I missed that penalty kick and I was devastated," Lua said. "But I kept my head up."
The Bulldogs star didn't make many other mistakes the rest of the way.
Lua scored in the 19th minute when he deposited a pass in front of the cage into the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.
Erik Gonzalez scored from the left side to get the Wildcats on the board in the 20th minute as the Le Grand lead was cut to 2-1.
However, Lua struck again just before halftime.
Garcia sailed a ball over the Waterford defense, which set up Lua one-on-one with Wildcats goalie Angel Tellez. Lua beat Tellez to the bouncing ball and tapped the ball over Tellez and into the net for a 3-1 lead in the 37th minute.
Lua's third goal put the game away late after Waterford had close the lead to 3-2 with a goal by Enrique Diaz in the 72nd minute. Le Grand's Hector Tejeda passed the ball to Lua, who blasted a shot from about 25 yards out that found the back left corner to extend the Bulldogs' lead to 4-2 with about 2 minutes left in the match.
"They've been here before," said Waterford coach Milko Vasquez. "They were in the final last year. They are a well disciplined team and (Lua) is for real. If you leave him alone he's going to hurt you. I think that last goal is still hanging on the net. That's how hard he hit it."
After the final whistle blew, the Le Grand players exploded off the sideline as they celebrated their first section title in 17 years.
"This is very, very special," Le Grand coach Jeff Slaughter said. "These kids worked so hard for this. They've overcome a lot of obstacles to get here."
Lua's three goals give him 36 on the season, which ties him for ninth in the state.
"Andres didn't care about scoring tonight," Slaughter said. "He just wanted to win that banner."