PLAIN CITY — By a numerical account, Grace Nicol's one-goal game against Fremont on Tuesday was her lowest tally of the season.

But that would be nit-picky.

Nicol, a junior attacking midfielder for Davis High, scored one and assisted a second as the Darts (3-0, 1-0 Region 1) controlled the entirety of their 2-0 win at Fremont.

Through three games, that brings her tally to seven goals. In soccer, it's hard for one singular player to put their stamp on a game because there's 21 other players on the field, but that's exactly what Nicol has been doing.

"This is no big surprise to me. She came in and wanted to make an impact on the team, so this year she's been able to do that," Darts head coach Souli Phongsavath said. 

And it could've easily been more.

After a cross went into Fremont's penalty box in the second half, the ball ricocheted off Fremont keeper Sydnee Stephens and a defender and right to Nicol, who had an off-balance effort at an empty net hit the crossbar.

"That should've been in," she said, laughing. 

Stephens alertly turned aside Nicol's close-range effort a few moments later. 

The scoreline may have indicated a one-sided match, but it was scoreless the first 60 minutes. 

Fremont repelled wave after wave of Davis attacks in the first half and the first 20 minutes of the second half. Darts midfielders won the ball back off Silverwolves players seemingly every time they tried to cross midfield.

Davis dominated possession and kept the ball in the Fremont half the majority of the time, but couldn't do anything with it until the 61st minute. Nicol hit a corner kick and Halle Lund headed it past Stephens for the first goal.

Minutes later, Nicol made it 2-0 after she bullied the ball away from two consecutive Fremont defenders in the penalty box and calmly sent the ball past Stephens.

Nicol said in the past she was uncomfortable with close-range shots, but after emphasizing her finishing skills in the offseason, those chances are coming naturally to her now.

"I'm more comfortable in the one-versus-one situations, like the one today. I worked on those a lot because I used to be really uncomfortable. I'd just get in my own head a little bit, just tell myself, 'Don't miss!'" Nicol said.

Silverwolves (1-2, 0-1) midfielder Sophia Henley had Fremont's best chances and very nearly broke the scoring deadlock early in the second half by turning and hitting a long-distance shot from 30-plus yards that nearly caught Darts' sophomore keeper Taygan Sill off guard. 

Sill did well dive down to her right and prevent the ball going into the goal and, as a bonus, going out for a corner kick.

Defense has been the other strong point for Davis through the first three games. The Darts have allowed zero goals while scoring 15.

"We have a fantastic keeper ... when called upon she makes great saves. Our back line was our big question mark, we lost 2-3 girls from last year and so we've got some new girls back there, they've been able to step up. It's still a work in progress but I'm happy with these first three games for sure," Phongsavath said. 

Another big part of the defensive success is how Davis has controlled possession in the midfield. The Darts frankly haven't seen a ton of pressure on defense. 

You can reach prep sports reporter Patrick Carr via email at pcarr@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter @patrickcarr_ and on Facebook at facebook.com/patrickcarr17/.

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