ST. GEORGE – In the first two weeks of the season, the Dixie State fall sports have seen mixed results. The football and volleyball teams have both struggled. The men’s and women’s soccer and cross country teams have performed well. All of their games and matches have been on the road, however, and now all will return to the friendlier confines of St. George. Below are summaries of each team’s first two weeks:
The football team has underperformed against the expectations heading into the season. After taking a big step last year with a winning record and a win against nationally-ranked Colorado Mesa, DSU head coach Shay McClure pointed out in the preseason that his team is only in the second year of its four-year building program.
“We certainly don’t want to damper any enthusiasm or excitement,” McClure said. “Last year was good, but we are far from being an elite Division II program. We will continue to build and progress.”
Perhaps those growing pains showed in the first two games. The Trailblazers lost on the road to New Mexico Highlands after leading 22-7 going into the fourth quarter. To read more about this game click here.
In the second game of the season, it was a tale of two halves. The defense could not stop South Dakota Mines in the first half, but played solidly in the second. The offense performed well in the first half, but could not finish drives in the second. “Our team was well-prepared for this game,” McClure said. “(SDM) did not throw anything surprising at us. We just failed to execute.”
The Blazers will now return home to play Black Hills State this Saturday at Legend Solar Stadium. DSU lost to Black Hills State last year 20-14 on the road. Game time is scheduled for 6 p.m.
The volleyball team has also struggled through the first two weeks of the season. The Trailblazers opened the season by dropping their first four matches at the Otter Classic in California. The team then split their next four at the West Region showcase in Washington. The Blazers will begin conference play with their home opener against Cal Baptist with a 2-6 record.
“We have struggled through the first two weeks,” said head coach Robyn Felder. “We have not only a lot of youth, but also some inexperience with our returning players. But with each match we have seen improvement. The team is developing trust and getting better at recognizing their teammates’ strengths and weaknesses.”
Two players that have exceeded expectations are junior transfer Hannah Doonan and true freshman Sydney Johnson. “Hannah has stepped up and performed well,” Felder said. “She is one of our go-to players on attack. Sydney has done a great job at setter. She has great hands and is getting better and better getting our attackers in great position.
“Two of our returning players, Shannon Sorenson and Sidney Brandon, have also played well. Shannon has been a wall in the middle with her blocking and Sidney has not only played libero well, but is also showing great leadership with her communication on the court.”
With the PacWest Conference schedule nearing, Felder knows they have to play better.
“We have played a tough non-conference schedule,” she said. “But the pressure always ramps up with conference play because of the rivalries we have built up with the other teams. If we focus on our side of the net, I think we will be O.K. We need to cut down on our service, receive and attack errors.”
DSU’s match against the Lancers will be this Saturday at the Student Activities Center at noon.
The men’s soccer team has now extended its season game winning streak to 19 games. After winning the last 15 games of last season, the Trailblazers have tacked on four more wins to begin this year.
Overall, the Blazers have outscored their opponents 10-2 with the last two games coming by shutout.
“We have been very good on both the attack and with our defense,” said head coach Jonny Broadhead. “Anytime you can put up two goals, you give yourself a good chance to win.”
In addition to the returning all-conference players (Gabby and Moises Medina, Bryan Baugh, Dominic Damato, Angel Estrada and Christian Hall), Broadhead has seen outstanding play from some newer faces.
“We knew from spring ball that our two other starters on the defensive line, Ascari Robles and Kenny Barajas, were going to be good,” said Broadhead. “But they have exceeded expectations.”
Another unexpected contributor is Dixie High alum Mitch Wilkinson.
“One of our rotation players, Alexis Beizas, has been injured,” Broadhead said. “That gave Mitch an opportunity to play. And he has taken full advantage of that opportunity. He has played well and worked himself into the rotation.”
The Blazers’ non-conference schedule has ended. They will face Chaminade on Thursday, Sept. 21, at 7 p.m. The Blazers won their latest game against future RMAC foe Colorado-Colorado Springs 5-0. Forward Moises Medina scored a hat trick.
Unlike last year, the women’s soccer team will head into PacWest play with a winning record. And it will do so having gone against tough competition. The Blazers sit at 3-1. Three of their opponents have winning records and the fourth is picked to finish near the top of their conference.
“Our defense has been solid throughout non-conference play,” head coach Kacey Bingham said. “We still need work on our attack. But overall, we are playing well.”
When asked the difference between this year’s team and last year’s that finished third in the PacWest, Bingham noted the depth she has.
“With the talent of the new players we have and the experience and talent of our returning players, we have good depth on defense and attack,” she said. “Our rotation will actually grow when conference starts because we have players coming off injury that will join the players that have played in non-conference.”
The only blemish on the Trailblazers record was against nationally-ranked Sonoma State on the Seawolves field. The home team scored a goal in the last minute to pull out the 1-0 win.
The Blazers will play one last non-conference match against Westminster this Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. in their home-opener. They will then host Chaminade on Sept. 21 at 4:30 p.m.
The Dixie State women’s cross country team won the George Kyte Invitational Sept. 2, while the men’s team finished third in the open division at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Ariz.
The Dixie State women as a team took home first place overall with a team time of 1:26:25.3 in a 2.6 mile run. Skyler Storie was the top finisher for the Trailblazers in the women’s race as she finished in second in the open division with a time of 16:50.5. Billie Hatch was right behind Storie in third as she tallied a time of 17:06.3. Laynee Wells finished in sixth place with time of 17:23.3. Wells edged out Anela Christensen, who recorded a time of 17:28.9 to finish in seventh. Dixie State had six total runners finish in the top 15 of the race.
A team time of 2:09:08.6 was good enough to earn a third-place team finish for the Dixie State men in a 4.5 mile run. Dixie High alum Hunter Chamberlain claimed third place in the open division and was the lead man for Dixie State with a time of 24:52.1. Two other runners finished in the top 10 for the Trailblazers, including sophomore Ben Fish, who crossed the finish line in sixth place with a time of 25:21.2. Miguel Ramirez finished two spots behind Fish in eighth place with a time of 25:28.6. Tyler Fessler finished with a time of 26:13.2, solidifying a 23rd-place finish.
Both the men’s and women’s teams will travel north to Provo to compete in the BYU Autumn Classic Saturday, Sept. 16, before a quick trip to the UNLV Invitational in Las Vegas on Sept. 23.
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