Prep soccer: Defense will be key heading into today’s playoff games

Dixie goalkeeper Ethan Poulton. | File photo by Robert Hoppie, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Defense and emotion will play key roles in Thursday’s Class 3A soccer games.

So say the coaches involved.

“Defense will be key and we are at full strength right now,” said Marc Wittwer, coach of the Snow Canyon Warriors, who will host Richfield. All of the playoff games kick off at 4 p.m.

Snow Canyon's Branson Stafford (17) and Desert Hills' Bridger Nelson (17), Snow Canyon vs. Desert Hills, Soccer, St. George, Utah, Apr. 4, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie,, St. George News
Snow Canyon’s Branson Stafford (17) and Desert Hills’ Bridger Nelson (17), Snow Canyon vs. Desert Hills, Soccer, St. George, Utah, Apr. 4, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie,, St. George News

“We need to keep our heads, play smart and hard and stay focused,” Wittwer continued. “Our team needs to be strong and work together.”

Snow Canyon enters the tournament with the region’s No. 1 seed after winning a coin flip with fellow co-champion Dixie. The Flyers entertain North Sanpete.

Dixie comes in as the defending state champion, but lost a large number of seniors off that championship team. Coach Burt Myers has built a bit of a dynasty, with the Flyers having won three of the last four state titles. After an 1-2-1 start, the light seemed to click on for this young Dixie team midway through March. Since then, the Flyers have gone 10-1 and have allowed one goal or fewer in eight of those games.

Desert Hills travels to Carbon and Cedar travels across town to battle Canyon View, the Region 12 champion.

“It will come down to whichever team can deal with the emotional side of the game and just play,” Cedar coach Scott Kamachi said of the first playoff game in soccer between the two rivals. The two schools were both in Region 9 until the most recent Utah High School Activities Association realignment.

“These teams have played some very close games the last two seasons, so it should be very exciting,” Kamachi said.

It’s hard to ignore a couple of contenders from northern Utah, most notably Juan Diego. Dixie beat the Soaring Eagle in overtime in last year’s playoffs, but Juan Diego is an impressive 14-0-0 this season and went 8-0-0 with only two goals allowed in Region 11.

Thursday’s winners will meet in the quarterfinals on Saturday.

Class 3A Soccer Playoffs
Thursday’s first round

Upper bracket
Park City (5-9) at Logan (8-5-2), 4 p.m.
Cedar (5-9-2) at Canyon View (11-4-1), 4 p.m.
Richfield (4-10-0) at Snow Canyon (12-4-1), 4 p.m
Ben Lomond (3-5-1) at Grantsville (8-2-4), 4 p.m.

Lower bracket
North Sanpete (6-7-3) at Dixie (11-3-1), 4 p.m.
Morgan (4-8-0) at Stansbury (11-2-3), 4 p.m.
Union (2-6-4) at Juan Diego (14-0-0), 4 p.m.
Desert Hills (11-4-0) at Carbon (7-8-1), 4 p.m.

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Twitter: @oldschoolag

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