PLAIN CITY — It’s been an emotional week for the Northridge High girls soccer team.
On Monday, the Knights knew if they won both their games this week, the Region 1 title would be theirs and theirs only.
Tuesday, they sweated out a 1-0, double-overtime, senior night win over Roy where some of the players seriously considered the fact that the region title was slipping away.
Wednesday, Northridge practiced and tried to prepare for Thursday’s game at Fremont like it was just any other game.
Thursday, the Knights held their nerve and won the Region 1 championship.
Tiani Fonoti scored two goals, her 10th and 11th goals of the year, early in each half and Northridge (13-2-1, 11-2-1 Region 1) rode out a 2-0 win at Fremont, sealing the Knights’ first girls soccer region title since 2004.
“Having the region title behind us, that’s what kept us going and working hard most of the week. We just wanted to win that right there. That’s our motivator,” Fonoti said.
Fonoti scored the game-winning goal in double overtime on Tuesday, both goals Thursday, the lone goal in a 1-0 win over Davis on Aug. 20 and a game-winning goal in a 2-1 overtime win over Roy, also in August.
Northridge as a whole hasn’t been the type of team to blow other teams out of the water and put games to bed at halftime. Six of the Knights’ 13 wins were by one goal.
“We’ve had to grind and that’s a good trait to have,” head coach Wyatt Kennah said.
Barely two minutes after Thursday’s game started, Northridge earned a corner kick that Sierra Sivulich floated over Fremont goalkeeper Sydney Stephens.
The ball pretty much landed on Fonoti’s right foot and she had a wide-open, tap-in goal from no more than a couple feet away.
Sivulich technically provided both of Fonoti’s goals, though only the corner kick will show up as an assist. Ninety seconds after the second half started, Sivulich won the ball with a hard tackle in Fremont’s half of the field.
She and the Silverwolves player whom she won the ball from fell down. The ball rolled to Fonoti, who took two touches and fired a shot that dipped under the crossbar for the Knights’ second goal.
“From the start, our goal was to be region champs and we have not let go of that goal,” Northridge midfielder Lauren Call said. “Every practice, we’ve worked towards that. We wanted it so bad, the most out of anything, so that helped a lot just how passionate we were for it.”
After both goals, each team struggled to connect passes and create chances. The best chance in the second half actually fell to Fremont (9-7, 8-6).
Abbi Sanford hit a half-field-length diagonal pass on a rope to Brylee Nelson in the penalty box, whose shot went wide as goalkeeper JaCee Berry rushed forward to prevent a scoring chance.
“It started a lot last year with the run we went on, we started getting some confidence, believing we could do it and this is a lot of what we built off of last year,” Kennah said. “We had great seniors last year, great seniors this year, good underclassmen to support it, it was a whole team effort and it’s been building for awhile.”
Here’s where the 2019 region championship scenario is different: the Knights don’t know who they play in the postseason yet.
With the new all-comers state tournament format seeded by a Rating Percentage Index (RPI) system, Northridge and every other team in the 6A classification has to wait until the UHSAA reveals the state tournament bracket next Wednesday, Oct. 9.
The top six seeds in 6A get a first-round bye. Northridge routinely ranked in the top seven in previous RPI rankings this season.