ST. GEORGE – Dixie and Desert Hills will meet in the 4A state quarterfinals Thursday night in a game that was originally scheduled for Friday afternoon at Alta High School, but has been moved to southern Utah and Pine View High School at 7 p.m.
“We’re excited to have it down here,” said Washington County School District representative Craig Hammer. “We wanted to have it at Dixie State’s newly renovated stadium, but they have a previously scheduled event. However, we are happy the UHSAA let us move it down here.”
Both the Flyers and the Thunder pulled off road upsets in the 4A quarterfinal round to earn their way into the state semifinals. Dixie, the No. 2 seed from Region 9, beat No 1-seeded Bonneville 4-2 last Saturday, while Desert Hills (seeded third) knocked off No. 1 Logan 2-1. The other two semifinalists, Park City and Juan Diego, also beat No. 1 seeds to get into the Final Four. The Miners surprised Snow Canyon 1-0 in double overtime and the Soaring Eagle defeated Orem 5-4 in a penalty kick shootout after a scoreless double-overtime match.
“I was really surprised Snow Canyon lost, but not real shocked at the other games,” DH coach Benji Nelson said. “I felt like we had a really good chance against Logan and Juan Diego is always in the mix. At this level and with the game of soccer, anybody can beat anybody this time of year.”
All four semifinalists are former 3A teams that bumped up to 4A with the new six classification shuffle last summer. Dixie and Desert Hills battled in the ultra-tough Region 9 all year.
“It’s going to be a great game and a lot of fun,” said Dixie head coach Burt Myers. “I think the community will come out and support the two teams and see some great soccer. Both of these teams have the ability to win it all.”
The semifinal between Juan Diego and Park City will still be played at Alta High School Friday at 11:30 a.m., but moving the other semifinal down south makes a lot of sense.
“Giving our kids the ability to sleep in their own beds is huge,” Myers said. “We’ve got two games close together, time wise, so that little bit of extra rest will help a lot.”
The 4A championship will take place Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at the new RSL Academy in Herriman.
Dixie beat Desert Hills in their first meeting this season, a 4-0 Flyer victory at Thunder Field. The two teams then met up at Dixie’s Walt Brooks Stadium, with the two teams battling to a 2-2 draw.
“We made a couple of mistakes in that first game and gave them some easy goals on penalty kicks,” Nelson said. “We weren’t quite in our groove yet. Since then, we’ve really improved and come together as a team. With us, we are really focused on coming out and playing as a cohesive unit. All we’re asking is for every player to come out and give 100 percent.”
Myers echoed Nelson’s thoughts in summing up how each team could possibly come away victorious.
“These two teams are pretty evenly matched,” he said. “We’ve got to play collectively as a team , keep our shape and spacing and really communicate.”
Desert Hills, 11-2-4, features the high-scoring duo of Walker Heaton and Ben Simister. Each of the two have scored 15 goals this season. The Thunder average 3.2 goals per game and surrender just 1.1 per outing. Preston Hodges has seven shutouts in goal this season.
Dixie, 12-1-3, is led by Oscar Quintero (16 goals) and Tauri Morales (14). Trey Hoskins has 10 goals this season and goalkeeper Kieran Atkin has recorded seven shutouts, including that one on Apr. 3 against Desert Hills. The Flyers score at a 3.8 goals per game clip, and have allowed just 12 goals in 16 games this year (0.75 gapg).
“This is going to be a great match,” Nelson said. “It’s a real positive that they’re letting us play the semifinal down here. Hopefully the whole community will come and make it a fun and exciting event.”
4A state playoffs – 1st Round results
Park City 4, Bear River 0
Snow Canyon 3, Salem Hills 0
Orem 5, Pine View 1
Juan Diego 2, Mt. Crest 1
Desert Hills 2, Mt. View 1
Logan 1, Ben Lomond 0
Bonneville 2, Sky View 0
Dixie 8, Spanish Fork 0
4A state playoffs – Quarterfinal results
Park City 1, Snow Canyon 0 (F/2OT)
Juan Diego 0, Orem 0 (JD wins PKs 5-4)
Desert Hills 2, Logan 1
Dixie 4, Bonneville 2
4A state playoffs – Semifinal matchups
Thursday (@ Pine View High School)
Desert Hills (11-2-4) vs. Dixie (12-1-3), 7 p.m.
Friday (@ Alta High School)
Park City (12-4-2) vs. Juan Diego (11-4-1), 11:30 a.m.
4A state playoffs – Championship (at RSL Academy)
Park City/Juan Diego winner vs. Dixie-Desert Hills winner, 3:30 p.m.
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