DRAPER — In 2018, Northridge's girls soccer team instrumented an impressive late-season turnaround that saw the Knights narrowly qualify for the playoffs, win their first-round game on the road and then lose 1-0 in the quarterfinals to eventual state champion Lone Peak.
Most of the starters in 2018 were juniors who came back in 2019, won the school's first girls soccer region championship since 2004 and won two playoff games.
A third playoff win, one that would book a spot in Friday's title game, was not in the cards.
American Fork scored a late, first-half goal off a chaotic free kick and held on in a 1-0 win that sent Northridge home in the 6A state semifinals Tuesday at Juan Diego Catholic High.
"They worked so hard for this and they did a great job," NHS head coach Wyatt Kennah said. "They worked so hard last year and laid the foundation for this year and we were this close. We're just one play away from going to the finals and that's unfortunate."
Strangely, the AF-Northridge game played out similarly to how the previous 6A semifinal between Pleasant Grove and Davis did.
In that game, a team scored late in the first half from a chaotic set piece and held off a spirited effort from the other side in the second half.
American Fork had a free kick in the 39th minute from close range and the ball took a couple of rebounds and deflections before it ended up in the path of Andelin Baldwin, who tapped into a wide-open goal.
"Unfortunately, it's kind of like the first game. It's a mistake in the box and that was the difference. We made one more mistake than they did and that was it. It's a good team we played," Kennah said.
Kennah thought the Knights played well enough the rest of the game to warrant a different result.
The Cavemen limited Northridge leading scorer Tiani Fonoti to a couple of long-range shots and had multiple defenders pressuring her whenever she had the ball.
"(Fonoti's) been great all year and she made big goals in big games going into it. Beating Skyridge, that's a great team. Beating Lone Peak, which is a great team. I know if anyone coming out of our region is getting beat, it's a good team," AF head coach Derek Dunn said.