Sandy • It took a lot of convincing for Elizabeth Empey to come out for Dixie’s girls’ soccer team this season. In fact, she admits she doesn’t like the sport.
Her Flyer teammates were sure glad to have her around Friday.
Empey, who was Dixie’s third option at goalkeeper this season, made a key save during a shootout against Park City in the Class 3A semifinal at Jordan High. The Flyers used that momentum to top the Miners 4-1 on penalty kicks.
“The team didn’t have a goalie and I have some pretty good friends on the team,” said Empey, who was recruited after last year’s starter, Kelsey McCann, moved to Provo and another goalie got injured. “I was saying no but my parents said it would be a good learning experience for me. I don’t like the stress.”
Dixie will face Juan Diego, a 1-0 overtime winner over Cedar in the other semifinal, for the 3A championship Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Park City led 1-0 at halftime before Dixie’s Finess White knotted things up with a high-arching, 50-yard shot in the 49th minute. The ball trickled off the fingertips of leaping Miner goalie Hannah Hyatt and into the net behind her.
The score remained the same after 100 minutes, necessitating the shootout. Dixie went first and converted all four of its opportunities, as Aubri Challis, Alexa Estridge, Alexa Bernabe and Elle Roberts all scored. Park City missed its first attempt, but Devon Dunmire converted hers.
Empey guessed right and blocked Gretchen Swenson’s attempt.
“She got the win for us by knocking that goal down,” Dixie coach Burt Myers said about Empey’s save. “We were with untrained keepers at the start of this season and Liz hadn’t played in two years. She was going to play volleyball, but I told her how much we needed her. I’m glad she came out.”
Now that she has experienced what it’s like to play goalie in a shootout, Empey said it is not as stressful. Still, she’d rather not experience it again.
“Moments like that, it all comes back to the beginning,” she said.
The Flyers were somewhat lethargic in the first half, unable to connect passes and allowing too much space on defense. Park City broke a scoreless game in the 29th minute when Reese Pearson scored. Pearson had time to settle the ball, turn toward the goal and release her shot without a defender on her.
“I think we were starstruck,” Myers said. “We got a couple decent looks toward the end and said lets do what we do. We needed a break and we got that.”
In anticipation of a shootout, Myers had his team practice penalty kicks the last two weeks. The five best were slotted for the shootout.
“They ripped shots just as pretty as punch,” he said.
Dixie will compete in its first state championship game since 2006, when, coincidentally, it defeated Juan Diego on penalty kicks.
Dixie 2, Park City 1 (4-1 PKs)
O Elizabeth Empey stops a shot during a penalty-kick shootout to help her team defeat the Miners.
O Dixie vs. Juan Diego
Saturday, 4 p.m.
Rio Tinto Stadium