SANDY – The Dixie Flyers shut out the Juan Diego Soaring Eagle on their way to a 1-0 victory Friday night at Alta High School in the 3A Semifinals. The win advances Dixie to Saturday’s 3A state championship game.
Flyers goalkeeper Hayden Matthews was superb, repelling Juan Diego strikes all night, as Dixie held on to a 1-0 lead scored at the 31st minute of the first half by forward Alex Green. Green, who took advantage of a free kick and a mistake by the Soaring Eagle defense, pinned the ball from 35 yards out into the top left corner to give the Flyers the difference it would hold onto for the remainder of the game.
“On the free kick, I just tried sending it to the back post where everyone was and then when no one touched it, it just kept going,” Green said. “The goalie bit on someone who was over there and it went in.”
Dixie head coach Burt Myers, whose girls team won the title last fall, credited a well drawn-up play and a great kick by Green as the reason the Flyers were able to pull ahead.
“We were moving the ball well,” Myers said. “We got fouled out there and it was a good chance to set up a play. What happens is that one player comes across the keeper and just kind of disrupts his vision. Alex is just supposed to bounce the ball 5 yards off the line and if his vision is blocked like it was then it will skip right through. That’s how it happened and it just went perfect.”
After capturing the first-half lead, Matthews orchestrated his defense to perfection, though Juan Diego did give the Flyers several scares going down the stretch. The Soaring Eagle had multiple shots on goal in the waning minutes of the game, but each time, Matthews or one of his defenders were able to keep it out.
“We knew that when they had five minutes, 10 minutes left, that they were looking for that goal and for that equalizer to send it into extra time,” Matthews said. “I was just saying to my guys to just keep it solid on that back and we moved for each other like we practiced and that counts, especially right now. We were just trying to get the ball up and get the ball out.”
In closing 30 seconds, JDHS had perhaps its most promising look at knotting up the match. JD midfielder Andrew Montoya beat the Flyer defenders to the ball and had a one-on-one opportunity coming from the right side of the goal. Matthews was able to force Montoya to a difficult position and Montoya’s attempt harmlessly hit side net.
“He was very close,” Matthews said. “But he didn’t have much angle to work with so I just tried to make myself as big as I could and not give him an opportunity to score and he put it side net. That’s all I need right there. I don’t need a save.”
Myers commented on how clutch Matthews’s performance at the net was and what a close call the final showdown between Montoya and his goalkeeper was.
“Hayden did a great job tonight,” the coach said.”I knew they would have a couple of good looks, too, and they just put their’s into the side of the net. On the outside, that one last shot scared me to death. Hayden told his defense where to go and where to step and he did a great job. That goalie is another coach on the field and it’s great to have him there.”
With the win, the Flyers go to 14-3-2 and set up a Region 9-exclusive state championship. The Flyers and the Cedar Redmen will match up for the 3A state title Saturday at 11 a.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Juan Diego, winner of Region 10, ends the season with a 14-4-0 record.
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