Thursday , April 12, 2018 - 8:52 PM
SYRACUSE — The improbable and unlikely always have a chance of happening in soccer every time 22 players line up on the pitch.
And, boy, did it look really improbable for Northridge against Syracuse on Thursday.
In short: the Knights played with 10 men for the final 20 minutes of the second half, saw a Syracuse penalty kick clang off the post, switched their starting striker and wing midfielder to central defender when they were reduced to 10 men, withstood a flurry of Titan shots on goal — and somehow pulled off a vital 1-0 win in the second period of extra time with a goal after a corner kick.
Three teams — Syracuse, Northridge and Fremont — were tied for Region 1’s fourth seed before the day’s games and Northridge’s win gives the Knights (3-5-2, 2-3 Region 1) a vital boost in their chase for the postseason.
Northridge keeper Max Burtts came into the game halfway through the second half after Ismael Garcia was sent off for denying a goalscoring opportunity to Benson Reynolds in a mid-air collision. Reynolds left the game with a gash on his nose and didn’t return.
Burtts’ first task was to stop an Ethan Harris penalty kick, which ricocheted off the post.
“I gotta admit I was pretty nervous at the start, those first few minutes I was a little timid out there, but I got it going,” Burtts said.
Ethan Harris's penalty is....OFF THE POST. Still 0-0, 20 minutes left, Northridge down to 10 men pic.twitter.com/UjTPO8p2fI— Patrick Carr (@patrickcarr_) April 12, 2018
Northridge had a starting defender, Hunter Kehr, leave the game late in the first half with a concussion. Syracuse, attacking with the wind at its back, rattled off two good scoring chances in the first 10 minutes of the second half and looked like the team most likely to break the deadlock.
After the red card to Garcia, Northridge forward Jake Hotchkiss and midfielder Dylan Tyler were switched to central defender. Hotchkiss, in particular, was instrumental in intercepting through balls and disrupting Syracuse’s attack.
The Titans (4-7, 1-4) amped up the offensive pressure after the missed penalty and tested the mettle of the makeshift back line and young goalkeeper in a blistering stretch of extra time.
Burtts calmly saved Dyson Clapier‘s hard-hit snapshot from outside the box, deflected Kobe Carlson’s spinner and held on to Kaden Argyle’s downward header — all in a space of four minutes.
“We just didn’t take advantage of the opportunities that came our way. Sometimes when you go down a man like that, a team plays a lot better and a lot harder,” Syracuse head coach Todd Strong said.
Northridge freshman Gaven Nelson nearly made Syracuse — playing without its main playmaker Agustin Torena due to red card suspension — pay a minute later from a counter attack, but his shot fizzed wide.
But here again was the improbable, budding and blooming in a typical mid-April Utah cold front.
Northridge got out on one of its few counter-attacking situations in the second period of extra time and got a foul on the edge of the box.
Cayden Nelson’s free kick was cleared out for a corner kick. Britton Morrell flicked the resulting corner toward the goal where it rattled to Blaine Cantwell’s foot.
Cantwell toe-poked the ball goalwards and Kelby Norwood tried to clear it, but ended up deflecting it into the net.
“I was sitting there for a few seconds thinking, ‘What just happened?’ Then I was like, ‘Oh, that’s game,’” Burtts said.
Whether it was an own-goal or a goal with a deflection, Northridge’s players didn’t seem to care when they celebrated and lifted Morrell in the air for getting the flick that started the chaotic final sequence.
FREMONT 3, CLEARFIELD 1
PLAIN CITY — Weston Hales scored two second-half goals to lead Fremont past Clearfield in a Region 1 contest.
Porter Meyerhoffer scored in the fourth minute on an assist from Brandon Baray and Fremont led 1-0 at the half. Hales put the Silver Wolves ahead for good in the 54th minute, assisted by Talon Smith. Hales added a 79th minute score on an assist from Brian Baray.
Tyler Jenkins scored an equalizer for Clearfield in the 43rd minute.
Layton at Weber: Rescheduled to Friday, April 13.
The day’s entire prep softball schedule was rained out.
Northridge at Weber: Rescheduled to Friday, April 13.
Woods Cross at Viewmont: Rescheduled to Friday, April 13.
Fremont at Davis: Rescheduled to Wednesday, April 18.
Layton at Syracuse: Rescheduled to Wednesday, April 18.
Clearfield at Logan: Postponed; no reschedule info available.
Morgan at Sky View: Postponed; no reschedule info available.
Utah Military at St. Joseph: Postponed; no reschedule info available.
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