ST. GEORGE — You never know what to expect in the first round of the playoffs when two regions collide in a loser-out with rarely a common opponent amongst them.
Pine View prepared for Region 11’s fourth-seeded Grantsville as if the 8-5-1 Cowboys were as good as anyone in the state. They weren’t, as the Panthers scored in a cascade of goals in the first half en route to a 7-0 victory Thursday afternoon. It was part of a banner day for Region 9 in which all four seeds from southern Utah won, with No. 2 Dixie beating Bear River 3-1 (see related story), third seed Snow Canyon beating Ben Lomond 2-1 and even fourth-seeded Cedar knocking off Region 11 champion Stansbury 1-0.
For the Panthers, the unknown factor may not have been a bad thing.
“We practiced like this was as good a team as any we would face,” said Pine View midfielder Braden Johnston. “You play like you practice and we practiced hard this week.”
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Pine View coach Sam Johnston echoed that sentiment, adding that the Cowboys came into the game with a decent record.
“We really didn’t know much at all about them,” he said. “That unknown factor made us a little nervous, but also kept us consistent at practice, knowing that we would need to be at our best.”
Pine View certainly looked its best early on, notching goal after goal as Grantsville succumbed to the relentless assault and the crisp PV passing. As the Cowboys watched helplessly, Michael Cardenas and Braden Johnston pounded home a pair of goals and just 25 minutes into the match, it was already 5-0.
“When those first two or three goals went through, we relaxed a lot,” Coach Johnston said. “Sometimes you can relax a bit too much, but not today. Our midfield guys were excellent. They are the heart and soul of the team.”
The coach specifically mentioned Cardenas, Braden Johnston, Daniel Arellano, Keith Collins and Federico Resendes.
“I think it’s our chemistry,” Arellano said. “We’re all good friends. We don’t let mistakes get us down and we stay united as a team instead of playing as individuals.”
Arellano and Braden Johnston, two of the seniors on this veteran Pine View team, have been part of the transformation from a squad that won just two games three years ago.
“It’s been great to see the progress and improvement of the team,” Braden Johnston said. “We were 2-10 my freshman year, but we’ve stuck with it and stuck together and gotten better and come together. We really want to finish it right and win state our senior year.”
The Panthers also got goals in the game from Arellano, Resendes and Michael Wade. Justin Jones played most of the match in goal before giving way late to savor the victory from the bench. Jones has seven shutouts this year.
Pine View, 12-2-1, moves to the second round of the 3A State Playoffs where the Panthers will again play at home, this time hosting the Uintah/Carbon winner at 1 p.m. Saturday at Panther Stadium.
Snow Canyon 2, Ben Lomond 1
The Warriors dropped the Scots and advanced to the second round of the playoffs.
SC, 9-6-2, will travel to Draper to battle Juan Diego Saturday. The Soaring Eagle ran up a 12-0 victory over Richfield Thursday afternoon.
Cedar 1, Stansbury 0
The shocker in the first round came at the expense of the Stallions, who went into Thursday’s match with a nine-game winning streak and an average of 5.9 goals scored per game.
But the Cedar defense and goalkeeper Kaeland Osborne proved to be impenetrable, shutting down Stansbury. The Stallions hadn’t scored less than two goals in any game this season, including in their only other loss, a 4-2 decision to 4A Logan.
The loan goal came off the foot of Michal Briano, his 10th of the season and the 29th in the varsity career of the Redman senior striker.
Cedar, 10-6-1, advances to the quarterfinals and will play at Park City. The Miners are coming off a 5-0 win over North Sanpete. Park City lost in the state championship last season to Wasatch. The Wasps were bumped up to the 4A classification this past summer.
Other scores: Payson 2, Morgan 1
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