The girls had a great attitude all along and we wanted to get back here. When we drew Park City, they knocked us out of the playoffs last year on their field, so it was a little bit of a better feel for us. —Burt Myers, Dixie head coach
SANDY — Regulation wasn’t enough. One overtime wasn’t enough. A second overtime still wasn’t enough.
It took a shootout to decide the winner of the 3A semifinal showdown between Park City and Dixie Friday night, with the Flyers prevailing 4-1 in a shootout to advance to the 3A title match Saturday afternoon at Rio Tinto Stadium.
“The girls had a great attitude all along and we wanted to get back here,” said Dixie head coach Burt Myers. “When we drew Park City, they knocked us out of the playoffs last year on their field, so it was a little bit of a better feel for us.”
Dixie dominated and controlled the ball for most of the first half. However, it was Park City who drew first blood, as the Miners capitalized on their opportunities. Reese Pearson took a beautiful cross and buried it in the upper-right-hand corner of the net in the 29th minute to put the visiting team up 1-0.
In the second half, the two teams reversed roles and the Miners began to control the ball. Dixie finally got the ball into the Miners’ territory, but struggled to get it within scoring distance — or what seemed to be scoring distance.
But then Finess White booted the ball from nearly midfield over the heads of the Miners and just over the fingertips of Park City goalie Hannah Hyatt to change the momentum of the game and tie the score at 1-apiece.
When asked whether or not she meant to change the game in such a drastic manner, White simply replied, “Nope. I was walking away. I thought it was just going to go over (the net).”
“The ball just came rolling out, and she (Finess) stepped up like she’s supposed to and hit it. She’s supposed to shoot it from that distance; she’s got a cannon,” Myers added. “When she hit it, I saw the goalie was off her line a ways and I saw her step forward and I said, ‘She’s too far forward,’ and she was.”
The Flyers were able to hold off a few late Miner charges to extend the match to overtime. Neither team could gain an edge with an extra 10 minutes, so the match went to a second overtime.
In the second overtime, the Miners cruised downfield and drilled what seemed to be the game-winning goal, but the referees disallowed it, sending the game to a shootout.
“Well, I think what they called was that our player ran into the 'keeper,” Miners head coach Chip Cook explained. “I disagree and I thought it was quite the opposite; it’s very disappointing. But, it’s the referees’ discretion, and they give the goalkeepers a lot of protection. It was an unfortunate call. I don’t agree with it, but that’s what they called.”
Aubrey Challis opened up the shootout with a goal for Dixie, while Park City hit the bar and missed its opening goal, giving the Flyers a significant advantage early in the shootout.
“That was huge. Aubrey has got ice in her veins,” said Myers of Challis’ opening goal.
After trading scores, Alexa Bernade found the back of the net and Dixie’s goalkeeper Elizabeth Empey came up with a huge save as the Flyers began to pull away from the Miners.
Dixie needed one final score to advance to Saturday's championship match as Elle Roberts approached the ball. Roberts made her move and scored as if it was just another kick, helping the Flyers escape with the shootout victory.
“They all shot perfectly. They could not have shot any better,” Myers said. “Tomorrow, I just think we’ve got to come out strong. I think now, we got this nervousness out of us. I think we’ve got to control the ball and our passing was off this game a bit, so if we get our passing on we’ll be better.”
Ryan Love is a full-time student at the University of Utah studying communications, and has been a part-time sports reporter and scoreboarder for the Deseret News since Oct. 2012.
Follow him on Twitter @RLove7724