Big 2nd half lifts Thunder to region-opening road win

Pine View vs. Desert Hills, Boys Soccer, St. George, Utah, Mar. 13, 2018, | Photo by Robert Hoppie,, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Last year, the top three teams in Region 9 boys soccer won a combined 22 games. In 2018, Snow Canyon, Dixie and Desert Hills might win more than that.

Those three squads each won going away Tuesday on the first night of region play, with Desert Hills dominating the second half at Pine View, Dixie owning the pitch vs. Canyon View and Snow Canyon grabbing a blowout win at Hurricane. Here’s a look:

Desert Hills 4, Pine View 0

The game was scoreless at halftime, giving Thunder coach Benji Nelson an uneasy feeling, and memories of an upset loss by his team a year ago. But then Kelton Holt broke through with a goal in the first five minutes of the second half and that started a cavalcade of goals for the visiting D-Hills squad.

“Sometimes we look at Dixie and Snow Canyon as the two big rival games and look past some of these other teams,” Nelson said. “Last year, they snuck a game against us because we were looking ahead. I’m hoping we can focus on one game at a time and really come out and give 100 percent.”

Pine View’s Ryley Duckworth (1) and Desert Hills’ Sawyer Heaton (14). Pine View vs. Desert Hills, Boys Soccer, St. George, Utah, Mar. 13, 2018, | Photo by Robert Hoppie,, St. George News

The ice-breaker by Holt really helped jumpstart things for the Thunder. Holt got in a one-on-one situation, as he did several times on the night, and struck one past Pine View’s goalkeeper to make it 1-0.

“We came out kind of sluggish, even though we knew we had to get this game for sure,” Holt said. “We were a little nervous in the first half, but I’ve worked for those one-on-one situations my whole life. I’m confident and I know I should finish the ball and that’s what I’ve been taught to do.”

Not long after Holt’s breakthrough goal, Sawyer Heaton and Will Schroder also found the net and the rout was on. Holt’s second goal of the game made it 4-0 and that was more than enough for red-hot sophomore goalkeeper Preston Hodges, who has recorded three straight shutouts.

“We have very high expectations,” Hodges said. “We want to show everybody what we can do. Pine View had a couple of really good scoring chances. You always want to have your head on a swivel. I always try to keep it simple and stay relaxed.”

The Thunder, who improved to 3-1 on the season and 1-0 in region, return to action with a home game Friday night against rival Dixie, with a 7 p.m. kickoff.

Snow Canyon 8, Hurricane 0

The Warriors went 8-0-2 in region a year ago and only allowed five goals in those 10 matches. And just like last season, Snow Canyon looked sharp in its region opener, turning a 5-0 halftime advantage into a mercy-rule win.

“(We were) dangerous on the attack all night,” Warriors coach Marc Wittwer said. “Ben Kemp and Cole Trotter held the middle well and created a lot of scoring opportunities. Hurricane did have some counter attacks that looked good when SC was slow to transition.”

Snow Canyon got scoring help from all over the field. Three different Warriors scored two goals each – Ben Kemp, Jacob Wittwer and Brett Gonzalez. Cole Trotter and Dillon Hoskins also found the back of the net. Kemp and Trotter also had two assists each. The other assists were by Hoskins, Gonzalez and Wittwer.

Austin Mild got the shutout in goal for SC, while Coach Wittwer also praised the play of midfielder Alex Tholen.

Snow Canyon is 1-0-2 overall and 1-0-0 in region going into Friday’s home game against Cedar.

Dixie 8, Canyon View 0

The Flyers broke this one open in the second half. It was 2-0 at halftime, but Dixie had an avalanche of goals after intermission.

“We were able to move the ball well,” Dixie coach Burt Myers said. “Our communication was okay. We can always do better in that aspect. Everyone contributed well with smart decisions. We saw the field well.”

Dixie got two goals each from Jose “Tauri” Morales and Trey Hoskins. Drew Durrant, Myles Keenan, Andy Rich and Oscar Quintero also scored goals. Dixie goalkeeper Kieran Atkin recorded the shutout, his second of the season.

Dixie, 3-0-0 and 1-0-0, is at Desert Hills Friday night.

Cedar 4, Richfield 0

Tito Garcia led the Redmen with a pair of goals, and Eli Sobel and Fabio Carive also scored as Cedar improved to 1-1 on the young season.

It was the first shutout of the season for Redmen goalkeeper Karson Bleazard. Cedar plays at Snow Canyon Friday night.

Region 9 boys soccer standings (region, points, overall)
Desert Hills  1-0-0, 3, 3-1-0
Dixie  1-0-0, 3, 3-0-0
Snow Canyon  1-0-0, 3, 1-0-2
Cedar  0-0-0, 0, 1-1-0
Canyon View  0-1-0, 0, 1-2-0
Pine View  0-1-0, 0, 1-4-0
Hurricane  0-1-0, 0, 0-4-0

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Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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