ST. GEORGE – Friday was the final regular season night of Region 9 soccer, and it did not disappoint. Two games had significant meaning, with three teams fighting for the coveted top seed for a home playoff game on Wednesday. Dixie and Cedar played down to the wire, while Snow Canyon was thirsty for the outright region title. With Dixie and Cedar playing in Cedar City at an earlier time, Snow Canyon knew what it had to do by the time their game started. Here is a recap of the action:
Snow Canyon 7, Hurricane 3
“The kids are dialed in,” Snow Canyon head coach Kenny Kunde said. “We’ve still got a few wrinkles that we gotta work out to make sure we’re ready for the playoffs. But the girls are excited – excited about the opportunity that they’ve earned to go try and get a state championship.”
The Lady Warriors started the game off quick, with Ashley Brindley getting a goal in the first 10 seconds.
“I just won the ball and took a shot,” Brindley said. “I was excited because it was a good start. We wanted to start by scoring fast. I was happy that we got the lead early.”
Fans all around seemed perplexed that the game started out with a goal so fast. But before fans had a chance to catch their breath, Aranxa Melendez took a shot on a free kick in the fourth minute and buried it in the back of the net.
“She played fantastic today,” Kunde said. “(She) made everything happen for us.”
Brindley had another chance for a goal in the ninth minute. She was able to get around the keeper, but punched the shot off the right post from only a few yards out.
The Tigers, despite already being knocked out of playoff contention, refused to quit. In the 10th minute, Anna Hall took a shot on a free and put it into the perfect spot for a goal to cut the deficit to 2-1.
The Lady Warriors, however, knew what was on the line for them. In the 15th minute, senior Sarah Evans was able to find the back of the net after getting a pass from fellow senior Kira Boettcher. Boettcher finished the game with three assists.
Snow Canyon continued to get good shots throughout the half, outshooting the Tigers 22-3. The Lady Warriors also had a 13-2 shot on goal advantage in the first half.
“After we got that pounding that Cedar gave to us up there, we had a really good chat at practice the day after. Since then, that’s 19 goals in three games,.” Kunde said of his team’s effort.
Later on, in the 28th minute, Evans found the back of the net again for her second goal of the night and fifth on the year.
“We’ve been preparing for this for a long time and we came out and did what we were supposed to do,” Evans said. “We all wanted to put in the work that we’ve been preparing for.”
As the Warriors were looking to take their 4-1 lead into halftime, Snow Canyon was fouled inside the goalie box. In honor of senior night, the Warriors elected to have senior Brielle Hoskins take the penalty kick. Hoskins buried the shot in the 39th minute to give the Lady Warriors a 5-1 lead.
The Tigers would strike back just before the half ended when Tymber Oliphant scored a goal to cut the lead to 5-2.
The Lady Warriors could smell the Region 9 championship and felt confident in their play.
“We got the seniors really fired up for their senior night,” Kunde said. “We talked a lot of strategy about what we needed to do. We watched plenty of film on Hurricane. We talked about controlling the fouls. Our kids did a really good job executing the game plan today.”
The Tigers came out in the second half looking to make a comeback, scoring in the 46th minute when Madelyn Hatch buried her shot into the net.
The Lady Warriors quickly adjusted to the Tigers game plan, allowing only two more shots for the rest of the game.
In the 51st minute, Brindley dribbled the ball around defenders from the right side toward the middle of the field and took a shot at the top of the box. The ball sailed past the Tigers goalie as Brindley recorded her second goal of the game.
Only four minutes later, Melendez gave Brindley a great pass and Brindley put the ball right in the back of the net, giving herself a hat trick with three goals on the night. It was the second time Brindley had put up at least three goals this season, and the fourth multi-goal game this year for her.
“It was a good game for Ashley,” Kunde said. “With Heidi (Smith) out again today, she knew she needed to step up a little bit and take that responsibility. Ashley played with a lot of effort today and when she plays with effort, she’s really hard to stop.”
The game would end with the Lady Warriors rushing the field in celebration of winning the outright Region 9 championship, a goal they have had all season.
The Lady Warriors now look ahead to Juan Diego, a team they lost to in last season’s state semifinal game.
“Juan Diego has been a team that we have played in the playoffs probably seven years in a row now,” Kunde said. “It’s just been back and forth. Last year we played them in the semifinals. We played well for the first 20 or 30 minutes and then they just put a thumping on us. We’re really excited to go hopefully get some payback for that game.”
“We’re definitely ready to play them,” Evans said. “We’re all really focused in. We know that we need to come out hard and give them our best game. This year we have the right chemistry. We have a really special team that can do what we need to do to potentially take state.”
“We feel confident we can beat them this year,” Brindley said. “But we’ll have to play as a team and work hard at practice this week if we want to beat them.”
Dixie 1, Cedar 0
The Flyers were hoping to capture the Region 9 title with their win against the Lady Reds in Cedar City, but had to wait for the result of the Snow Canyon game later on to find out how things would turn out.
After an ugly first half, Jessica Vasquez scored the only goal of the game in the 49th minute, taking a rebound from a Kennedy Warnick shot.
Mashaun Estridge was once again the star of the game, having a total of 12 saves on the day. Many of those saves were just inches from going in, including two right before the final horn sounded.
“After each (save), I get a little more pumped up,” Estridge said. “Those last two made me feel good about myself. My back line makes me look good, though.”
The Flyers were extremely frustrated with their first half play, with several players showing their frustration on the field.
“To us, it felt that bad. It really wasn’t. But we all expect a certain level of play from each other,” Estridge said. “That’s how we get the results that we get. We expect to play better than we did. We can play better than we did and we showed that in the second half.”
The Flyers were happy with how they adjusted their defense in the second half.
“We were really strong this game. It’s been hard for us to comeback since Delaney (Story) got hurt,” Flyers defender Macee Mcallister said. “But, I feel like we finally started to play as a team.”
Flyers head coach Sam Gibbs said he is really excited for the seniors on this team to be in the playoffs.
“This is a big thing for them,” he said “In the last few years, they haven’t gotten in (the playoffs). I’m super excited for these seniors to have this chance.”
The Lady Reds had a chance to score in the 17th minute when freshman Logann Laws took a shot, but Estridge had a diving save to prevent the goal.
In the 51st minute, the Lady Reds had the ball go into the goal, but were called back for a hand ball penalty.
Most shots for the Lady Reds seemed to soar over the goal, including one in the 68th minute when Laws had a wide-open lane to go one-on-one with Estridge.
Dixie now looks ahead to Wednesday when they will host Park City at Walt Brooks Stadium at 4 p.m. as Region 9’s second seed.
Cedar, which will go into the playoffs as Region 9’s third seed, will travel to Ogden High School on Wednesday for their first-round match up at 4 p.m.
Desert Hills 3, Canyon View 0
The teams went into halftime tied at 0-0, but the Thunder scored all three of their goals in the second half to get a much-needed confidence boost.
Tanayia Crosby started the scoring off in the second half, followed by Kenzie Wolley and Kodee Bracken later on.
Riane Hall and Kenna Decastro both got credit for the shutout as they shared time in the goal.
Desert Hills now looks to their matchup on Wednesday at Bonneville High School at 4 p.m.
Playoff Games: (All games are Oct. 11 at 4 p.m.)
Juan Diego (11#4) @ Snow Canyon (9#1)
Park City (11#3) @ Dixie (9#2)
Cedar (9#3) @ Ogden (11#2) (2828 Harrison Blvd, Ogden, UT)
Desert Hills (9#4) @ Bonneville (11#1) (251 E 4800 S, Washington Terrace, UT)
Final Region 9 Standings (Region, Points, Overall) * = clinched playoff berth
1. *Snow Canyon 9-3-0, 27, 10-4-1
2. *Dixie 8-2-2, 26, 8-4-3
3.*Cedar 8-4-0, 24, 8-8-0
4. *Desert Hills 7-3-2, 23, 8-6-3
5. Hurricane 4-5-3, 15, 6-5-3
6. Canyon View 1-10-1, 4, 4-10-1
7. Pine View 1-11-0, 3, 1-13-0
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