KAYSVILLE — A quick check of the phone directory shows Souli Phongsavath is not a very common name in Northern Utah — unlike, say, someone named Smith.
In the same vein, Phongsavath is a very elite coach on the pitch — not some average John Doe.
Davis High’s soccer whisperer guided his boys soccer team to the Region 1 championship Thursday when the Darts captured a 1-0 victory over Layton, avoiding a tie for the league title if the Lancers had won and sweeping the season series in the process
“Earlier this year was the first time we have beaten them in three or four years,” Phongsavath said. “It puts us in the position we want to be for the playoffs. We wanted to win it outright; we definitely didn’t want to share it.”
Josh Harwood scored the only goal of the game in the 71st minute on a penalty kick, giving Phongsavath his fifth region title in 13 years as the boys coach.
“It was super stressful. My hands were shaking, pretty much,” Harwood said. “Everything was on the line if I missed it; it would have been very bad. I just focused and looked at the spot I was going to kick it. PKs are easy, it’s just all the pressure that can get to you.”
This was the first penalty kick Davis (11-1-3, 11-1 Region 1) has made this season, missing two others — including one by Harwood.
“I had the confidence to take it again and, if you have confidence, it will go in,” Harwood said. “My coach actually wanted one of our defenders to take it, but I stepped up; I said I got it, I’m experienced at these. My coach looked at me and said, alright, I trust you, so I took it and got lucky.”
The Darts recorded their eleventh shutout and have given up only three goals all year with junior keeper Noah Larkin tending the net.
“All these shutouts and all this work isn’t coming down just to me, it’s been our whole defense,” Larkin said. “You’ve got to be ready for anything, down to the last minute; they could get a shot and the game can be tied.”
That nearly happened as Layton (12-3-1, 9-3) got one last good look literally as time expired, but Larkin made another key save to keep the clean sheet.
Davis takes a one-seed into the 6A playoffs and Layton will be a two-seed.
“The guys came out today and battled really hard. It’s unfortunate it came down to a penalty call but that’s kind of how soccer goes,” Layton coach Derek Amano said. “We battled for it, it just didn’t go our way today.”
Layton had a good look in the first three minutes and found the back of the net but the goal was negated by an offside call.
Otherwise, the pressure continued to mount on both sides, although Phongsavath felt his team was in a good position entering the second half.
“We were fine. We needed to settle down a little bit,” he said. “We had the wind in the second half. We just had to go out there and make the plays and execute to be able to win another region championship.”