Boys soccer: After 1st region title in school history, Northridge sets even higher goals
LAYTON — Technically, Northridge High soccer goalkeeper Matthew Ramirez was not the winning keeper in the Knights’ 1-0 first-round victory over Woods Cross in the 5A state playoffs last May.
He started in goal for Northridge, but went down due to a collision injury at the 73:39 mark of what was still a 0-0 battle against the Wildcats.
Still, the Knights advanced to the second round of the tournament on a goal by senior Ari Soorma with 30.3 seconds remaining in regulation, with Ramirez being tended to on the bench, while Holden Ashby tended net.
Ramirez’s sprained shoulder joint injury kept him out of the Knights’ second-round, 4-2 loss to Lehi that ended their winning 10-6 season prematurely.
This year, the goal for Northridge soccer is to go deeper into the playoffs, albeit with an entirely different cast of characters, as 15 seniors graduated from last year’s squad.
Ramirez returns healthy for his senior season and the Knights hope to continue to build on last season’s success, which resulted in the school’s first-ever region championship, shared with Bonneville and Viewmont, all posting 6-4 league logs.
One objective this year is to win Region 5 outright.
“With the work we’re putting in here at practice, and our dedication and getting our minds right, we can do it,” Ramirez said. “I also have to put my time in and work hard. Me as a keeper that’s in the back and has played for a couple of years — some pretty good years — I think I know what I can do and want to show it this year.”
Ramirez took over the starting keeper spot four games into his junior season, and the Knights only lost one game the rest of the year when he patrolled the pipes.
“I’ve been playing goalie since I was 3. My dad, he gets most of the credit; he wanted me to play keeper, so I focused on being keeper and I started doing good,” Ramirez said. “I always have to pay attention to the ball, what’s going on. Focus on a player, reading his body language makes me a good keeper.”
Northridge is 2-1 this season, with Ramirez racking up a pair of 2-0 shutouts against Ben Lomond and Ridgeline. The loss was a 3-2 game versus Fremont, when he was on vacation.
Other key players this year include senior midfielder Hudson Dean and juniors Jack Lowe, Luke Pearce and Koji Moss.
Senior forwards Tyler Thompson (who didn’t play soccer last year) and Issac Rodriguez have been pleasant surprises this season, scoring two goals apiece, in games thus far.
“We all learned something last year,” Northridge coach Rafael Guerrero said. “With that experience, I feel over time we should go farther — should go all the way, to be honest with you.
“We practice hard, the same way every day, talking to and teaching our players. When you create that environment — and we have the talent — it’s just beautiful and amazing to watch.”
The Knights last played a game on March 10 — in part due to the cold, wet, wintry spring weather — and were scheduled to open Region 5 action against Box Elder on Tuesday, but that has since been postponed.
“We have practiced in the gym. It’s a nice gym, but playing inside is hard. I think we’ll be OK (not playing), but we’ll see. I might be wrong,” Guerrero said. “Players give you the best when they know you trust them, and I trust my players.”
There are a lot of new players this year for the Knights, and three freshmen are seeing varsity time, but that hasn’t dimmed their hopes this season.
“First, I want to get the team together and have everyone bond as teammates on the field, and off the field be friends and hang out,” Ramirez said. “Then put in the work, play the games, win them, celebrate and then come back and work harder for the next game. If we go step by step — we have our coach here; he’s the one, he’s the man — we plan on taking region and taking state hopefully, or get pretty far.”