ST. GEORGE — Desert Hills sleepwalked through a good portion of its quarterfinal playoff game against Morgan Saturday afternoon. But the alarm went off in time and the Lady Thunder pulled away for a 4-1 victory.
“I could tell in warm-ups that we were lethargic, just going through the motions,” DH coach Benji Nelson said. “I did what I could, trying to motivate them and fire them up, but it took a little while. Fortunately, we woke up in time an finally got rolling.
Sixty-four minutes into the 80-minute quarterfinal playoff game between Desert Hills and Morgan Saturday afternoon, things had gotten a little dicey for the top-seeded Thunder. Clinging to a 1-0 lead on an early goal by Madi Hansen, DH watched as Morgan peppered the goal with a couple of dangerous shots that were repelled by keeper Brittney Moore.
Then, as if someone had lit a fire under the Thunder team, everything kicked into gear. A corner kick led to a couple of near misses in front for DH. Then, with 14:15 left in the game, Brenna Owen hammered home another cross off a corner to make it 2-0. Seventy-four seconds later, Jess Mathis knocked one in to make it 3-0 and the team was rolling.
Moore lost the shutout with 12:09 left as Morgan’s Rylee Freeman scored to make it 3-1, but Desert Hills striker Kenzie Done made sure there would be no comeback by pounding home a long free kick — perhaps 35 yards — with 10:35 left in the game, making it 4-1.
So the game went nearly 66 minutes with just a single goal, then four netfinders occurred in less than four minutes time. The capper was Done’s long-range missile.
“Well, nobody was ready, so I guess I’ll just kick it,” Done said. “Usually they stand right in front of the ball and this time they just didn’t. They were like, ‘We need a wall, we need a wall,’ and just standing around, so I just kicked it. The ref said I could go whenever I wanted.”
Hansen said she thinks she knows why the Thunder started slowly in the match.
“It’s been awhile since we’ve had a really competitive against a really tough team,” she said. “We clinched and so the JV played our last game of region and then we had that easy game against Richfield. We just needed to get it going.”
Desert Hills is on a mission since losing in the state finals a year ago. The Thunder won the region and are hoping to win one extra game this season.
“We’re actually going into the semifinals more prepared this year,” Hansen said. “Last year was the first year most of us had been to that level. Now that we’ve been there, we’ll be more confident coming in and how it goes up there and how it all works.”
The Thunder, 11-5-2, play Logan in the 3A State Semifinals Friday at 3:45 p.m. at Jordan High School in Sandy. The Grizzlies, 12-4-0, eliminated Pine View 3-0 Saturday.
Cedar and Snow Canyon will meet in the other semifinal Friday at 6 p.m.
The Lady Warriors stunned Region 11 champion Juan Diego up in Draper Saturday. Both teams had a goal in the first half, but neither could score in the second half or either of the 10-minute overtimes.
Soccer purists hate the PK shootout at the end of a tie game, but this playoff game had to be decided, so the two teams PKed to see who would advance to the state semis. The Warriors made all five of their kicks, while SC keeper Mada Mooring was able to knock away one of the Juqan Diego attempts, giving the victory to Snow Canyon.
SC, 9-5-4, will battle an old foe, Cedar High to see which team will play for the state title. The two teams split a pair of games this season, both ending in 2-1 advantages for the winner.
The Lady Reds, 13-5-0, made the semifinals by stunning Park City 1-0. Megan Giddings got the shutout, while the only goal of the match came in the first half.
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