3A soccer: Dixie earns first state title with win over Juan Diego
Sandy • Devin Bennett lay on his back, absorbing the moment on the field on which he had waited three years to play. Juan Diego players fell face down, trying to disappear into it.
One goal separated Dixie from Juan Diego, joy from heartbreak, Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium as the Flyers finally broke through to win the Class 3A boys' soccer title 1-0.
"It doesn't really feel real yet, but it's still an amazing feeling to know that we finally did it," Dixie midfielder Tadd Challis said. "We've been in the semifinals two years before this and to finally break through feels amazing."
In its first year after realignment sent it down from Class 4A, Dixie, the No. 1 seed from Region 9, survived a brutal postseason schedule that on back-to-back days pitted it against the defending champs Wasatch, which Dixie beat 2-1 on Friday and last year's runner-up, the Soaring Eagle.
"It makes it that we had to earn it," coach Burt Myers said. "It makes it, we had to work. We didn't have a given this year, we had to work."
The difference Saturday came in the 32nd minute on a play designed by Myers, which he said woke him up three weeks ago.
"I don't guess I was really asleep," he said, "I was just drifting and 'Oh, that's the play we need.'"
Konner Aitken took a corner kick, Mitch Wilkinson diverted the defense by feigning a run at the ball, and Bennet fired a shot to the far post. It was wide, but sophomore Cesar Gutierrez knocked it in.
"The idea is to have people framed around the goal so if something like that does happen," Bennett said, "they can stick it in, and it worked pretty good."
Juan Diego had multiple opportunities to score and in the first half did a better job controlling possession.
But it was a bitter return to the stadium for the Soaring Eagle, who lost 1-0 in last year's title game, as well.
"It's probably worse losing the second time," Juan Diego coach Scott Platz said. "Back-to-back is not an easy thing. We just have to try to build and recover."
Next year, the Soaring Eagle will try accomplish what Dixie did Saturday.
"The trophies are in the cases," Myers said, looking around, "but these smiles are what it's all about."
Dixie 1, Juan Diego 0
R Dixie becomes the second southern Utah team to win a boys' soccer championship.
• Sophomore Cesar Gutierrez scores the go-ahead goal in the 32nd minute after deceptive corner-kick play.
• Coach Burt Myers has now won three state soccer titles at Dixie, the first three with the girls' team.