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High school soccer: Davis’ Simon Jensen nets goal in closing minutes to hand Syracuse its first loss of the season

Syracuse and Davis face off during a boys soccer match at Syracuse High School on Thursday, April 8, 2021.
Syracuse and Davis face off during a boys soccer match at Syracuse High School on Thursday, April 8, 2021.
Annie Barker, Deseret News

There’s now only one undefeated team left in 6A.

In Thursday afternoon’s Region 1 showdown between Davis and Syracuse, Davis’ Simon Jensen scored with just five minutes remaining to secure a 1-0 Darts win and hand Syracuse its first defeat of the season.

Davis and Syracuse’s other region foe, Weber, is now the lone undefeated team in the 6A classification and one of just four remaining unbeatens in the state.

The game-winning goal came after a deflected clearance attempt from the Syracuse defense saw the ball fall right at Jensen’s feet, who then slotted it home with his right foot.

“I don’t really know what happened,” Jensen said of the game-clinching play. “The ball got dinked around, bounced off one of their players and then came right to my feet. I just touched it and slotted it bottom-right.”

The goal came as a relief to Jensen not just because he potentially won the game for Davis, but because he had an opportunity to get another goal moments earlier only to see the shot glance off the left post.

“After (I missed that first shot) I knew I had to get one back. When I scored (the game winner) I felt a lot better since I missed that first one,” Jensen said with a chuckle.

Jensen has been a key contributor for Davis’ attack this season, scoring or assisting on 11 of the Darts’ 17 goals. The game-winner was his eighth goal of the year.

Davis head coach Souli Phongsavath said Jensen seems to have a sixth sense for finding the ball in scoring position.

“Somehow, (Jensen) finds the ball in weird places, on fluke-type plays,” Phongsavath said, noting that Jensen hit a somewhat similar game-winner against Fremont earlier in the season. “Credit to Simon for forgetting about that first miss and burying the winner.”

Intensity was prevalent throughout the game, as both sides boasted well-organized defenses. Players could be heard jawing at each other, and some shoving took place, although the game never got out of control.

Phongsavath said the scrappy goal was a fitting ending to the physical, hard-fought game.

“I knew a game like this, where it’s tight and very physical, was going to come down to who could capitalize on a mistake,” Phongsavath said. “It wasn’t going to be pretty or anything, so it did, in fact, come down to who could capitalize on a flukey type play.”

Davis’ press was relentless and organized throughout the game, but was particularly pesky in the first half of play. Phongsavath said the press was deployed to force mistakes like the one committed on the game-winning play.

“We were trying to press high. We’ve been working hard on that, so when they made a mistake, we wanted to pounce on it, and I thought the boys did really well with that,” Phongsavath said.

In the second half, the game began to open up for both teams, as each saw a few more goal-scoring opportunities than they did in the first 40 minutes of play.

Syracuse’s closest scoring opportunity came about 15 minutes into the second half when Davis keeper Jude Walker punched away a deep cross only to see the ball sail straight toward the head of Syracuse’s Tracen Jacobs.

With Walker out of position, Jacobs’ headed shot rushed toward an open goal, but Davis’ Nash Jensen heroically stepped in goal to head the shot away from the goal line and out of the box.

The play by Jensen kept the scoresheet clean and kept the Darts’ hopes for the upset win alive.

The win gives Davis three straight victories after they suffered a 5-1 defeat to Northridge three weeks ago. Phongsavath attributes the recent success to tactical changes he and his players have made.

“We’ve had to settle in some things, change formations, switch some personnel, but once we’ve done that, the kids have gotten better and better and better,” Phongsavath said. “This was the first big test we’ve had since we’ve switched gears a little bit, so I’m very excited for the boys.”

The Darts will aim to continue the progress following the signature win in hopes they can challenge Weber for the top spot in Region 1.

“This is obviously a big win for us against an undefeated Syracuse team,” Jensen said. “Hopefully we can build on it as we move forward.”