ST. GEORGE – It was one of those classic match-ups of the best defense butting heads with the best offense and, as is usually the case in that kind of battle, defense won again.
The Dixie Flyers, owners of the top defense in Region 9, shutout the Snow Canyon Warriors, who have scored more goals than any team in 3A. The 3-0 finish was not indicative of how close the match really was. Dixie scored twice in the game’s final seven minutes to put the game away. But it was an important region win as it enabled the Flyers to move back into first place, one point ahead of second-place Pine View and four points ahead of the Warriors.
Much of the game was spent at the 1-0 status as Tyler Bennett put the Flyers ahead in the last minute of the first half with the first goal of the game. It came off of a rebound shot from McLane Keenan. Dixie was able to grab some insurance as the game clock wound down.
With 6:16 to play and holding to a slim 1-0 advantage, Dixie’s Connor Buehner executed a perfect bicycle kick towards the Snow Canyon goal. A Warrior defender had to jump up and block the ball to prevent the goal but in doing so garnered a “hand” penalty in the box. Avery Green executed a kick from 15 feet out into the left side of the net to give the Flyers some breathing room 2-0.
“Connor took a great shot,” said Dixie player Tyler Bennett. “If they don’t use their hands, it is going in.”
“Ethan Poulton is injured and could not go,” said Dixie head coach Burt Myers. “Tonight was Bridger Wright’s first start at goalie. He played great tonight.”
Wright actually cramped up in the second half and sat for about 15 minutes before subbing back into the game for the last 5:40. While he was out, freshman goalie Kieran Atkin gave the Flyers good play during a crucial part of the game.
“Tristan Cowles gets all the credit for their preparation,” said Myers. “He played for us in 2012 and is a juco national champion. He has got our goalies playing at a very high level.”
For most of the night however, the ball stayed in Snow Canyon’s end. “We tried to play safe after going up 1-0,” said Myers. “But sometimes when you are down in a closely contested game you end up chasing the ball. I think they were chasing in the second half.”
The Warriors best chance to score came at the 10:25 mark. After a Dixie penalty, Snow Canyon’s Angel Muniz curved the ball around the wall from 25 yards out, only to see goalie Atkin dive to push the shot off course.
Muniz would get another chance with 3:30 to play from almost the exact same spot as seven minutes earlier. This shot was deflected by the Flyers wall however.
Keenan scored a third goal with 2:34 remaining. Dixie forward Jose Morales intercepted a Warrior pass, pivoted to his left and made a perfect side pass to Keenan, who was sprinting down the left side. Keenan then easily got the shot past the Warrior goalie on the far side of the net.
Warrior forwards Muniz and Casey Monson had several deep penetrations into the Dixie defense late, but were continually frustrated by the back line. Jose Garcia, Konner Aitken and others on the back line successfully deflected several shots before the inexperienced goalies could be tested.
The game was marred by two red cards and several yellow cards. “These kids know each other very well,” said Myers. “Both teams are competitive and the action can get very intense.”
The Flyers move to 7-2-3 overall and remain undefeated in region with a record of 6-0-1. They will travel to Cedar Tuesday afternoon. The loss was only Snow Canyon’s second of the year. The Warrriors are 10-2 overall and 5-2 in region play. They will host Desert Hills on Tuesday night.
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