ST. GEORGE — Dixie ousted visiting rivals Payson 4-0 in the first round of the 3A soccer playoffs. The Flyers made up for a lackluster start with a powerful second half performance that left the home crowd buzzing as they exited the stadium Wednesday evening.
“I think when we combine our play, we play really well,” Flyers coach Burt Myers said. “We kind of got away from that in the first half. It turned into kickball out there. But we did a lot better in the second half.”
The Flyers soared out of the gate and made life difficult for Payson keeper Kaneesha Goodworth early on. But the thrifty defender held her ground and, with a little luck, held the Flyers at bay.
“(Goodworth) did a fantastic job,” Myers said. “Payson’s whole team was aggressive and played better than us in that first half.”
The second half was a different story.
Dixie scored within 10 minutes of leaving the locker room, thanks to a terrific play from junior forward Elle Roberts.
“Aubri Challis crossed to me and I just turned around and shot it,” Roberts said. “I feel like that goal helped us pick up our game.”
Indeed, with that nerve-wracking first goal firmly cemented into the record books, the Flyers let loose. Kelsey McCann scored off a corner kick less than 10 minutes later and then, with two minutes to go in the game, Cassidy Gray took on Payson’s defense by herself and kicked in a spectacular 15-yard goal of her own to give Dixie a whopping 3-0 lead.
As if that weren’t enough, Hadli Gledhill scored off a penalty kick as the final seconds ticked off the clock to turn a lopsided victory into an outright blowout.
“We just wanted to come out and get this win,” Roberts said. “I think we showed we’re ready for Park City. We’ll just have to go up there and get another win.”
The win marks Dixie’s eighth straight dating back to the regular season.
Elsewhere in Region 9, Pine View lost a close 2-1 match to Spanish Fork. Riley Barrow scored the lone goal for the Panthers, who lost in the first round for the second year in a row.
Callie Stewart, playing on a sore leg, netted an early first goal for the Warriors while Meghan McKenna and Tirsa Snyder scored a goal apiece on the win.
“We were very sloppy in the first half,” Warriors coach Ken Kunde said. “But we did a better job in the second half.”
The Warriors were battling through injuries sustained at season’s end, but continued to look like the team to beat heading into the second round.
“(Stewart) wasn’t 100-percent,” Kunde said, “She was timid on some of her tackles, but she did alright. Jadyn Losee hobbled a little out there, but looked OK. And Autumn Shipp looked great.”
Snow Canyon must next face Juan Diego on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at Warriors Stadium.
“We just want to stay mentally focused,” Kunde said. “The teams just keep getting better from here on out.”
Cedar also advanced with a 2-1 win at Delta.
The girls soccer bracket via the UHSAA website is here.
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Copyright 2012 St. George News.