SYRACUSE — Because Weber boys soccer won the state 6A championship in 2019, it would be easy to assume the Warriors also captured the region championship on the way to the title.
Such was not the case, so the players left over from that team still had taking the region title on their bucket list of things to do.
Undefeated and first-place Weber took on aspiring and second-place Syracuse on Tuesday afternoon, and once again the Warriors nipped the Titans 1-0, sweeping the season series and capturing that coveted Region 1 crown.
“Everything matters; region matters, state matters. We just want to keep on winning,” Weber senior Jayden Nordfors said.
Nordfors was a late first-half sub with four minutes remaining and overcame a case of nerves to score the only goal of the game in the 38th minute.
“Earlier I panicked and messed up because I was nervous about going in, but then I was like, I got this,” Nordfors said. “It was still tied and (Coach) Jan (Swift) told me before I went in that I need a result from you, so I said ‘OK, I’ll get one.’ I put all my work in, got there and did it.”
He was able to track the ball on a quick-hitting play and headed the ball past Syracuse keeper Hayden Poll for what turned out to be the game-winner.
“The ball went into the corner, then I saw them play back to Logan (Funk); we work on crosses in practice and I saw that and thought I’m going to run back post,” Nordfors said. “The ball just came right to me and I headed it in.”
Weber (13-0, 12-0 Region 1) logged its eleventh shutout of the year, led by goalie Stockton Short, who had a little help from his friends.
“Our defense just keeps holding it down. The trust keeps going up every single game,” Short said. “We’re getting more confident as the games go on and it’s fun to shut teams out ... I give a lot of credit to my coaches and defenders, they put us in a good spot to win games. I’m just doing my part and they do theirs.”
Syracuse (11-3, 9-3) was the hard-luck loser in a game so important to the school that it was moved into the football stadium to accommodate the crowd.
“The boys love playing here, and it’s a better playing surface with the new turf,” Syracuse coach Taylor Allen said. “It had a big-game atmosphere. We want to prep the boys for emotional situations like that so they’re ready.”
But the Titans made one crucial mistake at an inopportune time that let this one get away.
“It’s kind of an unwritten rule that the most dangerous times in soccer are that five minutes at the beginning or end of a half,” Allen said. “I bet 75 to 80 percent of goals came in that time frame. Maybe the kids were clock-watching internally. Sometimes you get to the end of the half and you want to hang on for one more minute, instead of just play.
“He (Nordfors) was marked by two defenders, and plain and simple he went and attacked the ball and the two defenders didn’t,” Allen said. “He had a great header but he should be challenged on that and we didn’t.”
Winning a region championship is one difference from this year’s Warrior team and the one in 2019, but Swift said there are other things that make this one special in its own way.
“In 2019 we went into a three-game skid that we had to shake off and refocus. This year we have been focused from the get-go. We believe in each other and work hard. Region championship was a goal, but focus on the game in front of us; don’t look past anybody.”
Short chimed in with his coach on the long-term goal by taking care of matters in the short term.
“The region championship is obviously a goal of the team, but it’s the first step to something bigger. Right now we’re looking to go to the playoffs and make a statement there and hopefully go take another state title.”