4A soccer playoffs: Region 9 co-champs upset, Southern Utah eliminated

ST. GEORGE — There will be no Region 9 representative in the semifinals of the state boys soccer tournament for the first time in more than a decade.

Ridgeline soccer at Dixie, 4A state boys soccer quarterfinal, Dixie High School, St. George, Utah, May 12, 2021 | Photo by Rich Allen, St. George News

Region co-champions Dixie and Snow Canyon, the last remaining Southern Utah teams, were both eliminated on their home fields by lower seeds on Wednesday afternoon. No. 3 Dixie fell to No. 11 Ridgeline 2-0 and No. 4 Snow Canyon was stunningly blown out by No. 5 Sky View 5-0. Ridgeline had previously bested No. 6 Crimson Cliffs in a penalty kick shootout in the second round. It is the first time since 2010 a Southern Utah team did not advance to at least the final four, not including the canceled 2020 season.

“It shocks me that both these Region 9 teams didn’t get through, especially where two teams were having to travel, play down here in our heat on our fields,” Dixie head coach Travis Wilkinson said. “Good for them.”

The absence from the semifinal round isn’t from a lack of talent. Dixie was the top scoring team in 4A with Crimson right behind them. Snow Canyon was ranked fourth. Valued by RPI, which takes into account strength of opponent, four Southern Utah teams were ranked within the top 10.

It came down to penalty kicks for Dixie while Sky View executed a game plan to a rout of Snow Canyon.

Here are recaps from Wednesday’s quarterfinal games involving Region 9 teams in the 4A boys soccer tournament:

No. 11 Ridgeline 2, No. 3 Dixie 0

The Flyers had plenty of opportunities to score and did enough defensively to keep the River Hawks from scoring during a live clock. Unfortunately for Dixie, it was a few controversial calls followed by perfectly executed penalty kicks that made the difference in what turned out to be the final game of their season.

Ridgeline soccer at Dixie, 4A state boys soccer quarterfinal, Dixie High School, St. George, Utah, May 12, 2021 | Photo by Rich Allen, St. George News

Ridgeline drew two controversial foul calls in the box to set up the free shots less than two minutes apart. They converted both by besting keeper Carson Greer to his left. Dixie had the scouting report on Ridgeline’s shooters and Greer dove the right direction but the shots were placed perfectly.

“The crazy part is we knew where they were going,” Wilkinson said. “I had already scouted them and I knew this is where they were going. That’s crazy when a kid knows he’s going to be diving to his left and that guy can still put it inside the post.”

In the early going, it appeared that Dixie was poised for a high-scoring contest using their traditional strategies. Rene Bernal found a near-breakaway just minutes into the game but opted to pass. Jorge Quintero found room up top to shoot and just banged it off the far post. Dixie sailed several shots over the crossbar.

The ball never found the back of the net. After an early 15-minute barrage by the Flyers, the River Hawks started to turn their luck into momentum. At the 3:53 mark of the first half, they drew the first PK after keeper Riley Garvert punted a ball deep down field. It took a big hop toward the front-left corner of the Dixie goalie box, drawing Greer out to play it where he collided with a River Hawk to take the foul as jeers from the Dixie grandstand claimed the foul happened outside the box.

At the 2:04 mark, Camden Rocha collided with the target player on a cross attempt, sending the Ridgeline forward to the ground.

A team that had started so hot had collapsed.

Ridgeline soccer at Dixie, 4A state boys soccer quarterfinal, Dixie High School, St. George, Utah, May 12, 2021 | Photo by Rich Allen, St. George News

“We had a few different centers where we could have put it right in the net, and we sailed it,” Wilkinson said. “Those would have been early-on, big-decision goals that would pull that momentum. We expect to find the net. We expect to get goals. The longer that game goes, it swings in their favor.”

Wilkinson was also quick to not blame the loss on the PKs. Fortune spun in their favor when they were granted a penalty shot of their own in the second half. Garvert made a stellar diving save to his left on Bernal to preserve the shutout.

Dixie got their shots but didn’t finish. Garvert made a handful of other clutch saves to keep the Flyers from scoring. Wilkinson said getting just one would’ve burst the bubble and energized the team.

Instead, Ridgeline moves on to play No. 7 Mountain Crest in the semifinals.

No. 5 Sky View 5, No. 4 Snow Canyon 0

At Snow Canyon, the Warriors saw their soccer season come to an end at the hands of the Sky View Bobcats, who posted a 5-0 shutout win in Wednesday’s 4A playoff quarterfinal.

The Bobcats scored off a headed-in goal just 10 minutes into the game, then added another score before halftime to take a 2-0 lead at the break.

Sky View found the net again early in the second half, going up 3-0 with 33:33 to play. Less than 10 minutes later, it was 4-0.

Snow Canyon made a spirited effort to at least break the shutout with a flurry of late shot attempts, but each missed the mark. The closest one, with less than two minutes to play, was a header shot off a corner kick that bounced off the top crossbar. Shortly thereafter, Sky View scored one last goal to account for the final margin.

Sky View soccer at Snow Canyon, 4A boys soccer quarterfinals, St. George, Utah, May 12, 2021 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Snow Canyon head coach Zac Hales said he had a hard time explaining what went wrong.

“It just wasn’t our day,” he said. “We had plenty of opportunities, especially later in the game. Their keeper made a couple of good saves; we put some just wide or high and hit the crossbar.

“We were kind of talking about that as a coaching staff, that on any other day, the way our season has been going, a couple of those go in for us, and a couple of theirs maybe don’t,” Hales added. “But that’s part of the game. That’s part of soccer. That’s why we love it and we hate it. It’s a love-hate relationship, and that’s why we continue to play and be involved in it.”

Hales said the 5-0 loss might be the worst in Snow Canyon soccer history.

“Since I’ve been involved, at least, it’s the worst defeat we’ve ever had,” he said. “But I mean, give credit to Sky View. They’re a fantastic group. They came down and worked really hard. I was very impressed with them.

“If they go on and win the whole thing, that means we got knocked out by the champs, so I hope the best for them,” Hales added.

 Snow Canyon ended its season with a 13-4 overall record and a region co-championship. 

Sky View, meanwhile, advances to take on No. 8 seed Stansbury in the next week’s semifinals.

Cedar City News / St. George News reporter Jeff Richards contributed to this report.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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