Sandy • Cultures, talents and styles meshed and eventually morphed into a state championship.
Standing inside the six-yard box on the north side of Rio Tinto Stadium, Dixie High boys’ soccer coach Burt Myers was asked to describe his program’s second 3A title in three seasons after the Flyers flew by region rival Cedar 3-1 to win the 2014 crown Saturday afternoon in Sandy.
R Dixie beats Region 9 rival Cedar to win the 3A boys’ soccer state title Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium.
» Tyler Bennett gives the Flyers a 1-0 lead in the 10th minute of play, and the lead is doubled eight minutes later on a goal by captain Caesar Perez. Luis Rabago adds the third goal in the second half.
» Dixie celebrates its second 3A state title in three seasons.
"This is the sweetest — the last one’s always the sweetest," Myers said. "This one’s really fun … every one of them loves each other, and I think that’s our biggest goal there."
It was accomplished. The Flyers earned their crown playing their style, opening the match with a goal in the 10th minute of play when sophomore forward Tyler Bennett weaved his way through a wall of Cedar defenders and eventually found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Bennett calmly slotted it home to give Dixie an early lead.
"I was surprised," Bennett said. "But I don’t know [how it happened], it just happened."
Eight minutes later, senior captain Caesar Perez doubled Dixie’s lead. Junior midfielder Jonathan Acosta rifled a shot off the post, but the ball bounced off the woodwork, back onto Acosta and rolled aimlessly into the center of the box. Perez jumped on it and scored.
"Our focus was to get two quick goals, and that’s what we did and that’s what our coaches told us to do," Bennett said.
Early in the second half, Luis Rabago delivered the exclamation point for the Flyers. The senior volleyed in a picture-perfect cross sent into the box by winger McLane Keenan, a play that was set up by a fantastic over-the-top ball to Keenan played by midfielder Alex Green.
"We just needed to get a goal early," Green said. "Then, from then on, [Cedar] would be down — that’s when you put in two more."
Dixie did that.
However, Cedar breathed life into its chase down three goals in the 62nd minute when junior Brett Sillitoe found a loose ball in the box and was able to chip it over the Dixie goalkeeper and defenders into the back of the net. But the Flyers, composed on the ball, knocked it around and eventually sprinted to the center circle at Rio Tinto Stadium, celebrating as champions.
"It’s rivals," Perez said, smiling afterward. "Everyone is on their game. No one wants to lose to their rival."
For Myers, the title is another topping on a successful and particularly sweet season. He looked on as the players passed the state championship around and made their way into the sea of blue on the west side of the stadium.
"Say in 10 years, one of the young men has his son at a grocery store and sees another [player] over there and says, ‘Hey, I played soccer with him! Let’s go meet him.’ That’s what we’ve worked for and I think we’ve achieved that," Myers said.
Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.