Fenton's Diaz walks her talk
Natalie Diaz wasn't ready for her senior season to end on Wednesday.
The Fenton midfielder wanted to make sure her teammates heard that message during halftime of the Class 2A Fenton regional semifinal at Redmond Park.
Right before the conclusion of the 10-minute halftime, Diaz gathered her teammates at the 30-yard line for a quick motivational chat.
"I told them we could all do better and it was time to step up, whether it was me or somebody else," Diaz said, a team captain. "Somebody had to give us that extra push."
Diaz heard her own message loud and clear. She scored two goals in the second half to finish with a hat trick in a 3-0 win over Prosser. The Bison (4-9-3) host Latin at 4:30 p.m. Friday in the regional title game. Before Wednesday, Diaz, a point guard on the basketball team, had scored just two goals this season and had "never" tallied a hat trick in her four years on the varsity.
"We just needed somebody to step up and I was happy that it was me," Diaz said. "I didn't want this game to be my last game. It's senior year, and I want to end with a (regional) championship. This win means everything. I just finished high school, and everything is hitting me. I just want to leave something meaningful behind."
Sixteen-plus minutes into the second half, Diaz lived up to her own words by giving the Bison some insurance, nailing a one-hopper into the back of the net for a 2-0 lead. Later, after a few brief delays, Diaz added her third goal, off an assist from Jazline Barriga, into the far post with just under 20 minutes remaining in regulation.
Fenton coach Victor Ruiz said Diaz picked a good time to provide some scoring.
"Natalie stepped up to the challenge and talked about taking it one step further and not getting eliminated early," he said. "That's what you want from your seniors. Natalie is hot and cold, but when she's on, she's really good. She has a good ability to finish at the net."
The Bison defeated Prosser 4-0 in their regular-season final but came out sluggish in the first half. Diaz scored in the 30th minute for a 1-0 lead. Senior goalie Cindy Osorio finished with 2 saves in the shutout.
"We were not as clean as we wanted to be," Ruiz said. "But we finished well, especially in the second half. We're excited for Friday. If we step up the intensity more, I think we will give them a good battle. They are good. It's a good challenge. If we win that game, anything can happen. Our season was not the best, but we can make it worthwhile and special with a regional championship."