Bombs away! Grace Nicol’s long-range shooting, overall versatility differentiated her in 2020 as she’s named Deseret News Ms. Soccer
A Utah State signee, Nicol’s overall game made her the “complete package” for the state champion Davis Darts.
Bangers, bombs, whatever you want to call them, the ability of Davis’ Grace Nicol to beat keepers from long range was a skill that separated her from just about every girls soccer player in the state of Utah in 2020.
Nicol’s overall aim wasn’t as laser-focused as it was in 2019, when her coach Souli Phongsavath said Nicol seemed to bury a long-range shot every game, but she dialed it in for the playoffs.
“She just has the complete package.” — Davis High coach Souli Phongsavath on Grace Nicol, the Deseret News’ 2020 Ms. Soccer
“She found it at the right time. Semifinal game she had that bomb, in quarterfinal she had another bomb,” said Phongsavath.
Nicol, a Utah State signee, finished the season with 14 goals, 18 assists and a 6A state championship, and for her many accomplishments has been named the 2020 Deseret News Ms. Soccer recipient.
“She has an overall game, She’s very good at a lot of different aspects. She gets back on defense, she obviously is a great passer playing central midfield and anytime she’s within range, 30 yards and in, she’s dangerous to score,” said Phongsavath.
Her lofted, 25-yard goal in the 6A semifinals epitomized Nicol’s ability to score from out of nowhere.
After splitting two Pleasant Grove players in the middle of the field about 45 yards from goal with her pace, Nicol’s dribbling run drifted slightly left into the empty space. When it became clear nobody would close her down before she could shoot, despite drifting away from goal Nicol turned her hips and uncorked a left-footed blast that sailed over the keeper’s head and into right side netting, just under the crossbar.
A powerful shot from distance is a weapon few players have, but something that separates Nicol from most others.
She had a knack for settling things down in right situations as well.
“She was the calming influence in the game, so during big games or big situations you just knew what you were going to get from Grace, and that she was going to play really, really well and get everyone involved,” said Phongsavath.
Nicol’s left-foot cannon indirectly led to Davis’ game-winning goal in overtime of the 6A championship against American Fork. Her powerful shot from the edge of the penalty area hit the crossbar and post in succession, with the rebound coming out in front of goal, for her teammate to put away.
With as many times as Nicol hit the woodwork her senior season, perhaps it’s no surprise she did so again in her final high school game. That was the last thing she cared about though while dogpiling her teammates celebrating the championship.
“It was the best feeling in the world, I can’t even put into words. I’m glad I ended my senior year like that,” said Nicol.
She finishes her career at Davis with 42 career goals, including the career-high 21 she scored during her runner-up junior season.
Nicol played her freshman season at Layton, but when Davis School District redrew the boundaries with the opening of Farmington in 2018, Nicol suddenly found herself in Davis’ boundaries. She really contemplated staying at Layton, but ultimately made the switch to the Darts.
It proved to be a great decision for Nicol and Davis, with the program reaching the semifinals all three seasons, including the championship game the past two.
“She just has the complete package,” said Phongsavath about what Nicol has meant to the program.
Nicol will head to Utah State along with her Davis teammate Bizzy Arevalo this fall hoping to compete for playing time right away.
“I feel so grateful that it’s not over, I’m super excited and I get to play with some of my best friends,” she said.