ST. GEORGE – As the state playoffs inch closer, teams are feeling pressure to secure their spots. Somehow, not a single team in Region 9 has clinched a berth. Even one mistake at this point could cost the entire season. With that in their minds, each team came to play Tuesday night:
Dixie 4, Hurricane 1
“The plan was to come out really intense,” Flyers head coach Sam Gibbs said. “We made a tactical adjustment to how we worked the middle of the field. We had a different formation and it worked. We were really able to move the ball up quite a bit more.”
The Flyers took a hit early on in the game when star defensive player Delaney Story took a hard hit and went down. Coaches decided to play it safe and keep Story out the rest of the game.
“She’s definitely an asset. Losing Delaney sucks,” Flyers goalie Mashaun Estridge said. “I wish that had never happened. She’s my teammate. But I was still confident with our back line.”
Shortly after, during the 10th minute, Kennedy Warnick took a shot toward the Hurricane goal. The shot was deflected, but Warnick stayed with it and put the rebound into the back of the net.
Minutes later, Isabel Erickson got a great pass from Lindsay Barben and took the shot. The Hurricane goalie deflected the ball right as Erickson kicked it, but the ball bounced up and rolled into the goal.
The Flyers had another chance to score in the 22nd minute when Kelcee Call took a shot, but the ball deflected off the crossbar.
Only two minutes later, Call put the ball in the back of the net as Warnick gave her a pretty pass.
Despite the play on the offense, Estridge was the star of the game, racking up a total of nine saves.
“She was awesome,” Gibbs said. “She had great stops. She was aggressive. She knew when to stay on the line and when to come out. She really protected our lead and made sure she won.”
Estridge had several stops that came at the last second, including one that grazed her fingertips and went just left of the goal.
“She always brings her best game,” Barben said. “She’s the best.”
Coming out of halftime and trailing 3-0, the Tigers refused to give up, racking up seven shots in the first eight minutes.
“They started releasing a second person up the middle and we just weren’t picking it up,” Gibbs said. “It took us a few minutes to recognize what was happening and make an adjustment. They played really well. They’re a good team and they play really hard. They caught us off guard in that half.”
At the 44th minute, Jayden Langford pounded a score home for the Tigers when Mylee Moon found her on a breakaway.
That would be the last goal for the Tigers, as the Dixie defense caught up to the Tigers offense.
“Kourtney Kezos stepped up to the plate and played that center spot really well,” Estridge said. “She kept that ball out as much as she could. Our backs, like Olivia McCune, stepped in and we worked as a team.”
The game was chippy from then on, but Dixie was able to seal the game when Barben scored off a Jessica Vasquez assist in the 76th minute.
Hurricane will travel to Desert Hills on Thursday in a match that could decide the final playoff spot in Region 9.
Dixie will travel to Snow Canyon on Thursday in a match that could very well decide the Region 9 champion.
“We’re going to work hard and we’ll be ready for Thurdsay.” Estridge said.
Snow Canyon 7, Canyon View 0
Snow Canyon had six different players score. Samantha Lindsey, Heidi Smith, Tylei Jensen, Kenzee Brough, and Kirra Boettcher each scored one goal. Sarah Evans had two goals.
Desert Hills 2, Pine View 0
Jenna Welch scored in the first half while Kodee Bracken scored in the second half. Ryan Hall pitched a shutout for the Thunder.
Pine View @ Cedar 4 p.m.
Dixie @ Snow Canyon 7:30 p.m.
Hurricane @ Desert Hills 7:30 p.m.
Canyon View — bye
Pine View and Canyon View have been eliminated from playoff contention.
With the loss, Hurricane falls out of the fourth spot (and potentially the playoffs), but can still get back in as they only trail the Thunder by 1 point.
Desert Hills loses out on the region title with a Dixie win on Thursday, but still has a chance if Snow Canyon wins.
Cedar, Dixie and Snow Canyon all still have a chance to win the title with a few games left. Snow Canyon has two games to play while Cedar and Dixie each have three each.
The playoffs will start on Oct. 10 at the home site of the No.1 and No. 2 seeds.
Thunder head coach Benji Nelson said it best: “Ties don’t help you now. You have to go out, score goals and win.”
Region 9 Standings (Region, Points, Overall)
Dixie 7-1-1, 22, 7-3-2
Snow Canyon 7-3-0, 21, 8-4-1
Cedar 6-3-0, 18, 6-7-0
Desert Hills 5-3-1, 16, 6-6-2
Hurricane 4-2-3, 15, 6-2-3
Canyon View 1-8-1, 4, 4-8-1
Pine View 0-10-0, 0, 0-12-0
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