ST. GEORGE Perhaps there was so much defense that it just appeared there was little offense.
Dixie's Jordyn Hutchinson managed a go-ahead goal with 13 minutes remaining to lift the Flyers past Cottonwood 2-1 at Walt Brooks Stadium on Tuesday. The win sends Dixie to the state 4A quarterfinals Thursday at home against Orem.
On the final goal, legs and arms were flying everywhere, but the ball appeared to freeze in front of the goal for a few seconds before it was gently tipped to Hutchinson, who promptly hit the top of the net just out of reach of Cottonwood keeper Jamie Richards.
For most of the game, the keepers were kept quiet as both teams had few realistic chances to score. Several forced long shots went high or wide.
After the Colts took a 1-0 lead on a corner kick headed into the net by Canada Clawson at the 28:44 mark of the first half, they were unable to connect on three consecutive corner kicks. On one of those kicks, Dixie defender Rachel Watts, who changed the direction of the ball several times during the game, came up with a key block, stepping in front of what looked like a sure Cottonwood goal.
"We have one of the best defenses in the state," said Watts, who was also very effective transitioning to offense. "We have played a lot together, and with two sophomores and two juniors, we are only going to get better."
Perhaps it was because this was Dixie's first 4A playoff appearance, or maybe it was because the Colts showed up in a bus with their own logo on it that the Flyers seemed a bit intimidated in the first half.
"We appeared awe-struck by the 4A team instead of just going out to play our game," said Dixie coach Burton Myers. "We didn't play with enough enthusiasm the first half."
But Myers said his team, which now has won 10 games in a row, replaced complacency with enthusiasm in the second half.
"We played better and had stronger pace on the ball," he said. "But we still haven't had a full game."
Myers credited his marking backs with a good defensive effort. In addition to Watts, Chamea Palmer, Ashley Hall and Becca Larsen held Cottonwood to very few shots on goal.
But Cottonwood did a good job holding the Flyers, as well.
"I told our team to pick up the intensity," said Cottonwood coach Amanda Bollinger.
Dixie managed to tie the game at 1-1 with a penalty kick from 5 yards out by Kalehua Harward after Robin Huddleston, who was injured later in the game while running down the sideline, was tripped up in front of the goal a few minutes into the second half. But several good plays by Hutchinson were stopped by a tough Colt defense before she slipped in the game winning goal.