Thunder survive late Dixie barrage, will play in 4A championship

Kelton Holt (2) and his teammates celebrate a first-half goal, Dixie vs. Desert Hills, Soccer, St. George, Utah, May 10, 2018, | Photo by Robert Hoppie,, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Desert Hills has been a second-half team all year, so when the Thunder got an early goal from Kelton Holt just two minutes into the game, it was a sure sign it was going to be DHHS’s night.

Holt scored less than three minutes into the game and freshman Trevin Kidman tapped in an open-net goal in the second half as the Thunder defeated cross-town rival Dixie 2-1 in Thursday night’s 4A semifinal at Pine View High School.

The win sends the Thunder into their first-ever chance at a 4A state championship. D-Hills will play Park City Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. at RSL Academy in Herriman for the 4A title.

The entire outlook of the game took a D-Hills slant early on as Holt blasted in a goal on a rebound with under three minutes off the clock.

Desert Hills’ Kelton Holt (2) scores a first half goal, Dixie vs. Desert Hills, Soccer, St. George, Utah, May 10, 2018, | Photo by Robert Hoppie,, St. George News

“Just two minutes into the game, we had a cross that came in and a hard shot at the keeper. He blocked it, but Kelton Holt got the rebound and just poked it in,” Nelson said. “We didn’t modify, but just the momentum and giving us that energy was big.”

Desert Hills came into the game as underdogs, finishing in third place in Region 9 behind Snow Canyon and Dixie and having gone 0-1-3 against those two teams. But the Thunder got playoff road wins at Mountain View and at Logan to earn their way to the semifinals.

“We’ve been playing so much better late in the year,” Desert Hills coach Benji Nelson said. “We’ve really come together as a team. They probably overlooked us a little as a team. They beat us that first time and the second one a tie. No one’s going to beat us three times in a year.”

Desert Hills’ Preston Hodges (0), Dixie vs. Desert Hills, Soccer, St. George, Utah, May 10, 2018, | Photo by Robert Hoppie,, St. George News

Dixie owned about a 60-40 advantage in possession the rest of the first half after Holt’s goal, but sophomore Preston Hodges was money in goal for the Thunder, stopping all Flyer shots, including a hard grounder by Oscar Quintero in the 19th minute and another save on a loose ball in the box in the 21st minute.

With the score 1-0 10 minutes into the second half, Dixie’s Tauri Morales fired a left-footed rocket low and hard to Hodges’ left. The young keeper made a diving save to preserve the lead.

A few minutes later, the freshman Kidman scored what he called “the easiest goal of my life” with 16:49 left in the second half. Holt and Dixie defender Jace Bennett converged on a through ball just as Dixie keeper Kieran Atkin got there. All three went down and the ball ricocheted to Kidman, who tapped the open-net goal home for a 2-0 Desert Hills lead.

“This is pretty big, pretty amazing,” Kidman said. “I feel so happy right now. I know how bad coach wanted this, how bad we wanted it. It’s huge.”

Desert Hills’ Sawyer Heaton (14), Dixie vs. Desert Hills, Soccer, St. George, Utah, May 10, 2018, | Photo by Robert Hoppie,, St. George News

Dixie pulled to within 2-1 with 6:04 to play when Andy Rich got a foot on a loose ball and poked it past Hodges to give the Dixie faithful some hope.

With the glimmer of light, the Flyers turned up the heat on Hodges. In the last six minutes, Hodges deflected away a half-dozen Dixie shots, including a header off a rebound by Quintero with 3:04 to go. Dixie had one last chance on a corner kick with 25 seconds left, but the kick was not close and the Thunder ran out the last few seconds and began the celebration.

“Dixie wanted it really bad, and I had cotton-mouth the whole time,” Hodges said. “The only thing I didn’t want was they score and it come down to PKs, ’cause PKs are all luck.”

Holt said the Thunder defense was the key in the game.

“Dixie got that goal with six minutes left and we just had to hustle,” he said. “They had momentum and we just had to stop them. Our defense played a great game and I was really confident in them. Hodges is a stud, man, a great player. I don’t have the words. He’s going to do great things.”

The Thunder, 12-2-4 on the season, have never won a boys soccer championship, but will battle Park City Saturday to try and change that.

Dixie closes the season with a 12-2-3 record.

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

Desert Hills 2, Dixie 1
Park City 2, Juan Diego 0

4A state playoffs – Championship (at RSL Academy)
Park City (13-4-2) vs. Desert Hills (12-2-4), 3:30 p.m.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • uprightandmovingforward May 14, 2018 at 7:07 am

    Congrats Thunder!!!

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