SANDY — Dixie had a game plan. Just like clockwork, the Flyers executed that game plan. And, in spite of a handful of scoring opportunities, the southern Utah boys soccer team connected just once.
Fortunately, said Dixie coach Burt Myers, that's all they needed.
"Our game plan worked well. I felt we could get a couple on them early," Myers said, referring to his team's opponent, Juan Diego. "But we missed a couple good shots early on. We did get the one and we were able to hang on."
The Flyers, who were the No. 2 seed from Region 9, edged Juan Diego, the Region 10 champions, 1-0 in the 3A semifinals at Alta on Friday afternoon, clinching a berth in the championship match.
It was Dixie junior Alex Green who scored the goal in the 31st minute, accounting for his team-high 10th score of the season.
"I said, 'buddy, just skip one in front of the goalie,’ ” Myers said of setting up the goal with Green. "We did, and we tried to have a player run in front of the goalie — just cross his face so that it causes a disruption, so he can't see it — where it blocks his vision for just a second, and that's all we needed. The ball skipped and went right in the corner — just like you draw it up."
From that point on, Myers was on the edge of his seat, waiting to see when the Soaring Eagle would find the groove that propelled the team to the No. 1 seed.
"I knew once they settled in, if they got their passing going, they're (difficult to stop)," the coach said. "They're an extremely good team. Scott Platz coaches a great team and he's a great coach. I watched their films and they just move the ball methodically — and we don't so well. And so we tried to get early goals and then hang on."
Even as the Soaring Eagle created scoring opportunities until the clock hit zero, the Flyers did maintain that lead, advancing to the 3A title game at Rio Tinto Stadium at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
Albeit daunting, the stadium is not unknown to the Flyers, a team that last won a championship in 2012. This time around, the opponent is not all that unknown either.
"It's going to be a good game," Myers said of playing Cedar City, the fourth-place team from Region 9. The Redmen defeated Dixie, 2-1, in overtime during their first meeting this season and then the Flyers upended Cedar, winning 3-1 in the second meeting.
"Cedar is a very well coached team, again, and they've got a lot of great athletes," Myers said. "It's going to be a barn burner, that's for sure. Cedar does some things really well, we do some things really well, and it's going to be a hot game tomorrow."
The focus, however, is still on returning to St. George with the championship trophy.
"You make that ultimate goal," Myers said. "Now we're a game away. We've got to keep that poker face."
Sarah Thomas earned a degree in Mathematics from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing an MBA at Westminster College. She has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008.