3A soccer playoffs: Thunder hopes ride on their defense

SANDY, Utah – Most of the soccer-loving fans in the state will be talking about today’s 3A semifinal, especially “the other one.”

Desert Hills takes on Park City at 4 p.m. at Jordan High School with the winner playing in the championship game at Rio Tinto Stadium tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. But most footie fans see the DH-PC semi as an undercard, with the real action between the real contenders beginning at 6:15 tonight when undefeated and untied Wasatch (18-0-0) takes on Region 11 champ Ogden (14-1-1).

The pressure will be on DH keeper Vincent Enfield | STGnews file photo by Dave Amodt
The pressure will be on DH keeper Vincent Enfield | STGnews file photo by Dave Amodt

Certainly, the impressive Wasps, Region 10’s champ, and the Tigers, winners of 12 straight, make for an impressive match-up. But fans would be foolish to discount the chances of Desert Hills bringing home a state title.

“We have some business to take care of,” Thunder goalkeeper Vincent Enfield said. “This is where we got stopped my sophomore year and we want to make up for that.”

Enfield and the Thunder have been playing inspired soccer as of late. A mid-season 4-0 loss to Pine View seems to have jolted Desert Hills into a new dimension.

“That was tough to take,” Tanner Browning said. “We’ve been playing pretty well since then.”

Indeed, the Thunder have gone 8-0-1 since the Pine View debacle and made a stirring region comeback to win the league title on the last day of the season. Two playoff victories later and Desert Hills is on the cusp of its first state championship game.

“We feel pretty good, like we’ve earned this,” coach Stuart Dewey said. “We’re going up there to take that next step. Defensively, we’re playing as well as anyone.”

That’s an understatement as Enfield and his defensive back line have pitched three straight shutouts, including last week’s 1-0 smothering of Juan Diego in a game that turned very physical.

“It did get a little rough,” Chase Thompson said. “Things got a little chippy, but that’s the playoffs, I guess.”

Park City, DH’s semifinal foe, actually finished third in region 10 (just behind Juan Diego). The Miners lost three of their final five matches in the regular season, but won playoff games over Ben Lomond and Cedar City, a two and a four seed. POC beat Cedar 6-5 on penalty kicks after a scoreless games and two overtimes.

Chase Thompson hopes to provide some offensive firepower for the Thunder. | STGnews file photo by Chris Caldwell

The other semifinal is sexier, certainly, but the Thunder definitely belong. In fact, Ogden barely beat Region 9’s third-place team, Pine View, 1-0, in last week’s quarterfinal. And the undefeated Wasps needed a shootout to beat Dixie.

Friday’s semifinals
At Jordan High School
Park City (11-4-1) vs. Desert Hills (14-2-2), 4 p.m.
Wasatch (18-0-0) vs. Ogden (14-1-1), 6:15 p.m.

3A Championship, Saturday, May 11
At Rio Tinto Stadium
Semifinal winners, 1:30 p.m.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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