WEST VALLEY CITY — Northridge’s offense was clicking all through its first-round playoff bout against Hunter Thursday. The effort earned the Knights an 8-0 victory and a second-round matchup against region foe Layton.
Niki Bell led the way with a hat trick and an assist to get the Knights started after Mykenna Lake took Bell’s pass and little luck to put the ball in off the far post. Bell punched through the next two goals to put the Knights up 3-0 at the half.
“They definitely took our offense away from us. We came out good, but our mental game just wasn’t there and they played well.” — Hunter coach Celestte Coons on Northridge
Northridge positioned its wings on the sidelines throughout the 80 minutes. The spread proved tough for Hunter to defend.
“We wanted to make sure we kept passing and switching the field,” said Knights assistant coach Aja Arbuckle. “We were able to use our wings out wide a lot to get the ball down the field and did better when we spread things out than when we tried to come up the middle.”
As good as Northridge’s offense was, its defense was equally impressive and key.
“They definitely took our offense away from us,” said Hunter coach Celestte Coons. “We came out good, but our mental game just wasn’t there and they played well.”
Led by Lizette Ramirez-Escobar, the Knights never really let Hunter’s leading scorer Olivia Harding get open and limited her overall touches.
“Our defense was so good today,” said Bell.
She credited the defense and Northridge’s formation switch mid-season for being differences in the game.
“We’ve been working a lot on our formation since we switched it,” said Bell. “The quick passes out wide to our wings from our defenders gave us a lot more opportunities to go and score.”
Hunter did its best to battle out of halftime, but the game took a quick turn around eight minutes in as the Knights scored two goals in less than two minutes to extend the lead to 5-0. Mallory Ropelato booted through the first one and Bell knocked in the other.
From there, Destiny Huffman, Ella Sanders and Evee Augustine added scores to end the game with just under six minutes to play. Augustine’s was a beautiful side kick off a skying corner by Nikki Lunsford.