ST. GEORGE — Snow Canyon girls soccer survived a late push by the Dixie Flyers to win 2-0 on the road.
“One of the things we ask from them is intensity,” Dixie head coach Crystal Soderquist said. “When they come out and play with intensity they are such a great team. They possess well, they pass well, and they stepped up. Seniors asked them to play for the whole team tonight, and it was a team effort, everyone played really well tonight.”
Warriors head coach Kenneth Kunde was happy that his team got the win, but was not pleased with their play in the second half.
“Good first 50, horrible last 30,” Kunde said. “We played pretty sloppy, and gutsy performance by them. They played really hard in that last thirty, and we just couldn’t keep the ball. Defense held strong to not let them put it in, but we gave them a lot of chances that wouldn’t have happened if we were playing a little bit more consistent and under control”
Dixie put on some pressure early in the first half, which was expected from the team on their senior night. They had a couple of good opportunities, but one stood out. That was a play in which Snow Canyon’s Megan Rodgers stepped out of the net to make a play on the ball, but it deflected, and a Dixie player got a good shot at an open net. The ball rolled just past the post.
“I thought we played so hard,” Soderquist said. “We played really well. Second half especially we were in their defensive half the whole half, we just didn’t find the back of the net.”
About five minutes later, Heidi Smith got an opportunity at a free kick, and capitalized, giving Snow Canyon a 1-0 lead.
Snow Canyon would control the ball for the rest of the first half, but the Flyers came out of the half with even more intensity.
The one blemish for Dixie in the second half was an amazing goal from Heidi Smith. She attempted a shot on goal, but fell to the ground after the shot deflected off a Dixie player. As she was rolling around on the ground, she kicked it, and the ball bounced off the post, and into the back of the net.
“Hey, it crossed the line,” Smith said. Her coach was amazed by it as well.
“That’s what strikers do, they find ways to score, and Heidi is that quintessential striker,” Kunde said. “Anything to score, and she’ll do it. That was pretty amazing to see, that was a good goal.”
After that goal, Dixie controlled the second half, and had some great looks. Kunde praised his defense and his goalie after the game.
“The defense played pretty good, the problem is, they just couldn’t get the ball connected forward,” Kunde said. “Megan made some great saves, and I think that gave the kids a little bit of a spark. We held strong, bend don’t break kind of thing, so I’m proud of the kids for gutting it out. We just have to figure out how to keep that consistency for 80 minutes.”
With Snow Canyon looking ahead to the playoffs, their last Region 9 game is next Tuesday, and they want to be at peak performance headed into the postseason.
“That’s what we want,” Kunde said. “We want to be able, in a week and a half, to say that we are ready to play our best soccer. It’s a continued process at practice.”
Being a senior and a captain on this team Smith has been here before with the Warriors. In fact, she scored the game winner last season in the state championship game to give Snow Canyon the title.
“We’ve been here before obviously,” Smith said. “It’s important because there are a lot of these younger, junior girls, who haven’t been here before. I think it’s really important for us to treat every game like the championship game, then we get used to this pressure so that when we get there, then it’s natural. Ending region, going into state, being mentally tough, being able to play under pressure, being used to it and being calm is what’s going to help us.”
Kunde loves the pressure that the teams in Region 9 put on his girls every game, as it only prepares his team for what’s ahead of them in the state tournament.
Those teams from Logan, the teams up in that north Salt Lake area, they’re tough teams,” said Kunde. “We’re going to see a lot of teams like Desert Hills, like Hurricane, teams that are really going to push us to our limits.”
With the end of the season near, and it being senior night, Soderquist was complimentary of her seniors after their last home game.
“They’re awesome,” Soderquist said. “I can’t say enough about the seniors. Their leadership, their commitment on the field and off, they’re a special group, all six of them.”
Region 9 play will wrap up next week, with the Class 4a state tournament beginning on October 12. The bracket will be revealed next Wednesday at 9 a.m.
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