PLAIN CITY — Past performance does not guarantee future results, but after making the 6A finals last year, Davis was a Region 1 favorite again this season.
That would require a region season to reach completion despite the coronavirus pandemic.
It did, and Davis completed that journey Thursday.
Davis scored two goals less than a minute apart in the second half and it was enough to capture the Region 1 title, nipping the Fremont Silverwolves 2-1.
It was the first league championship for the Darts (15-1, 13-1 Region 1) since a three-year run in 2014-16 and 13th overall for the school, masking a difficult journey through a pandemic and many other maladies.
“We’ve had several major injuries to really good players (and) starters, and kept coming back,” Davis coach Souli Phongsavath said. “Some region championships mean more than others and this one is probably one of the most (meaningful) because of all the adversity we’ve had. Add in the pandemic; then one of our captains (Ruth Wright) went down ... that was huge for these girls to lose that influence among the team and on the field.
“I don’t know many girls teams that could lose an all-state player and still be able to win a region championship. I’m super proud of them and hopefully we can continue into the playoffs.”
Grace Nicol scored what proved to be the winning goal, emerging from a scrum in the box near the left post in the 47th minute.
The Silverwolves (8-8, 6-8) had been in control since the 16th minute of the first half when sophomore forward Brooklyn Robinson slipped one into the net for a 1-0 lead.
Davis finally tied it at 1-1 when Alizabeth Arevalo converted a penalty kick early in the second half.
“Our adrenaline was going. Like, we realized we’re still in this game, we got it,” Nicol said. “The PK, we got the first one out of the way so we could settle down and play and finish the game.”
To that point, the Darts had had as much trouble penetrating the Fremont defense as the few fans in the stands had trouble reading the gold numbers on the bright white jerseys.
In fact, Fremont controlled 79 minutes and 10 seconds of the game, but high school soccer lasts a full 80 minutes of clock time and, 50 seconds after Arevalo’s penalty kick, Nicol netted the winning goal.
“It comes down to mental toughness,” Fremont coach Kelly Parke said. “Almost all goals are scored within the first two minutes of a game, two minutes of a half or two minutes of another goal being scored — 80% or something like that. It’s not unusual but it’s happened to us too many times.”
Both teams now get a chance to reload for the state tournament, hoping their good fortune in the face of the pandemic holds up.
“Every game, we knew it could have been our last, so we just tried to make the most of it because we didn’t know when COVID would cancel everything,” Nicol said. “We’ve been super grateful for every game we got. Our goal at the beginning of the season was first, win region, then state. I’m so excited.”