SANDY — Dixie senior goalkeeper Ethan Poulton made save after save Friday night against Juan Diego, but even Superman has his kryptonite as Juan Diego’s blistering offensive attack finally capitalized on a golden goal in overtime to help the Soaring Eagle get revenge on the Flyers and advance to the 3A state soccer championship, 1-0 at Alta High School.
Juan Diego, which was on the receiving end of a semifinal golden goal loss last year to Dixie, exacted its revenge by slipping past Poulton on a 1-on-1 opportunity. To Poulton’s credit, he had stopped several 1-on-1 attempts earlier in the game, but this attempt was the proverbial straw that broke the Flyers’ backs.
In a match that saw 92 consecutive scoreless minutes of game play, the Soaring Eagle, who largely out-possessed and had more quality opportunities on goal than the Flyers, finally obtained separation just eight minutes before it would have come down to penalty kicks. Juan Diego orchestrated a nifty give-and-go, assisted by Ruben Castillo, with Michael DiGeronimo just sliding the game-winner by a lunging Poulton.
“We were all tired,” Castillo said. “But I knew that my teammate, Michael DiGeronimo, always has the speed and would make the perfect run, so I knew when he gave it to me he would make the overlap run and cut it back and I got him the ball.
“It’s an amazing feeling. I felt how bad it hurt to lose last year and now it’s sweet revenge to beat Dixie finally.”
DiGeronimo agreed with his teammate.
“I saw my player,” DiGeronimo said. “(Castillo) made a run through and I gave it him and asked for it back and I took a touch forward and it was just me and the keeper. I picked my head up and slotted it through. It is probably the best feeling I’ve ever had.”
Juan Diego head coach Scott Platz noted the way Poulton was playing, that he was glad to win it before it went down to penalty kicks.
“Credit to their keeper (Poulton),” Platz said. “He made some great saves that kept us out on a couple of occasions when I thought we were going to get there. It’s always in the back of your mind that, ‘What if this goes to penalties?’ The way their keeper was playing, that was not a possibility I was really looking forward to.”
Flyer head coach Burt Myers praised Poulton and admitted that on this night, Juan Diego was simply the better team.
“Ethan kept us in the game,” Myers said. “We played our guts out, but that’s a really good side (Juan Diego). It’s been a great season. I’ve enjoyed it and we’ve had a fantastic year. That’s just a really good side. We have nothing to despair, but of course it’s going to hurt. I think we all played hard, but they outplayed us and out-possessed us and it’s hard to beat a team when they’re doing that to you and they deserve that win for sure. They were just a little bit better then us this year and we were just a little bit better than them last year and that’s what it is.”
The Flyers finish their season 13-4-1. Juan Diego (17-0), will put its undefeated record on the line Saturday at 11 a.m. against Snow Canyon (15-3-1) in the 3A state championship.
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