LAYTON — Northridge coach Tom Zarate gave an impassioned, inspiring speech to his team along the sidelines before their game to ignite them before they took the field.
Layton junior Erin Bailey then went out and laid a hat trick on that flame and extinguished it, starting with a goal just 45 seconds into the match.
The Lancers rode Bailey’s barrage and beat Northridge for the third time this season, advancing to the quarterfinals of the 6A girls soccer tournament with a 3-1 victory Tuesday.
Bailey, who leads 6A in goals scored — now with 27 — was quick to credit her teammates for her success.
“They are the ones sending me the perfect through balls,” Bailey said. “I’m just lucky enough to get them off. They possess and carry the ball forward and I’m the one to finish it.”
Layton actually had several shots on goal in the opening seconds and finally found the back of the net.
“We did a high press; we didn’t give up when we almost lost it,” Bailey said. “Our goal right off the bat was have intensity and come out strong. But sometimes it’s dangerous when you score that early in the game, because we think ‘we got this and we got it in the bag,’ so it can be a little nerve-racking.”
Bailey’s second goal came in the 23rd minute, following a display of fancy footwork and a great individual possession.
“I’ve always been the smallest player and slowest and littlest, so I’ve had to learn to use my skills instead of my body,” Bailey said. “So, when I started to catch up with my speed and power and strength, I’ve been able to use my technical skills and it’s given me an advantage.”
Speaking of feet, Bailey was sporting a pair of pink Nike cleats that she first started eyeing in May and was finally able to pick up half way through the season.
“They are my dream, miracle cleats. I think I got the last pair. It’s because of my idol Kylian Mbappé,” Bailey said. “Whenever I’m running down the field, I just think of my cleats and I go faster.”
Other than Bailey’s two goals, the Knights spent much of the first half in Layton’s end of the field, but Lancer goalie Rilee Godfrey was able to turn their attack away with a little help from her friends.
“Our defense works really well together, man on man and marks them up quick,” Godfrey said. “When you get an early goal, you just have to keep going and realize that’s not the game.”
Northridge didn’t go away quite yet, though, and the Knights broke the shutout in the 52nd minute on a penalty kick by Paityn Auger to close the gap to 2-1.
The Knights then had a flurry of shots on goal trying to follow that score, but Layton was determined to continue its season.
Bailey added her third goal just five minutes later and Layton kept the Knights at bay.
“It was crucial, because after their PK, they had a few chances and if we didn’t get that (third) goal, we wouldn’t have been as confident in ourselves,” Bailey said. “We had to take a breath; we had to suck it up right now. Our season was on the line.”
With its third loss to Layton this year, Northridge has had enough of the Lancers in general and Bailey in particular. Layton has eight goals in the three games and Bailey has scored seven of them.
“We talked about her before the game; it’s not like we weren’t prepared,” Zarate said. “A player like that — I haven’t seen a player like that in the last four years I’ve been coaching. You know what she’s going to do, she just does it so fast.”
Zarate said the goal in the opening seconds set the tone for the game.
“We had that lapse in concentration at such an early time of the game. It’s tough. You look at the next 25 minutes and we had the ball the whole time. Soccer, more than any sport comes down to those moments. It’s frustrating, all that hard work ...” he said.