Desert Hills scored 21 goals and gave up only one in its four preseason games.
But none of that mattered heading into their Region 9 opener with defending state champs Dixie.
The Flyers hosted the Thunder Tuesday night, looking to get back on track after losing two straight preseason matches.
In a spectator-friendly match that included seven total yellow cards, and a whole lot more shoving, Desert Hills took down Dixie 1-0.
“I was pretty sure this was going to be our hardest game all season, so it’s a pretty good way to open it up,” said Thunder goalkeeper Vincent Enfield.
The Flyers controlled the game early on. They looked calm and composed throughout the first half, though Desert Hills’ toughness and physical play helped to keep things balanced.
Dixie kept Enfield busy in the first half, with Alex Green the closest to finding the net. But Enfield shut down all Dixie’s first half attacks and finished the first 40 minutes with six strong saves.
A slew of yellow cards for both teams ensued and a body for each team was helped off the field. Then, in the 65th minute Justin Brinkerhoff stormed down the field and took a crack at goal. There to scoop up the rebound was Ashton Nillsen.
“Justin took a magnificent run down and took a hard shot. It bounces back up, and as it bounces back, it came to me, and I just kind of chested it in,” said Nillsen. “We have this really awesome dude that comes to our practices, his name is Ty Rutledge. He just really shows how to finish, just shows us the ethics of the sport and the beautiful way to play it, and I think that composed us.”
Nillsen put in the game’s only goal, finished it with a backflip, and the Thunder held on for the remainder of the game.
Despite the goal, Dixie’s keeper Tristan Cowles, along with Enfield, put together perhaps one of the most stellar displays of goalkeeping that one Region 9 match will contain all year.
“It’s always tough. Dixie is always tough no matter where we play them, but to come here and to play them hard in a nice physical game and to come out ahead, it’s a good way to start the season off,” said Thunder head coach Stuart Dewey.
HURRICANE 2, PINE VIEW 1: With his team trailing by a point against Pine View, Hurricane’s Koy Gubler kicked in a penalty shot with five seconds left in regulation and to send the game into overtime.
Toby Anderson then won the game for the Tigers (4-1) with a goal about five minutes into the extra period and helped his team escape Panther (0-4) stadium with the one-point victory.
Michael Wade notched Pine View’s only goal at the 23-minute mark in the second half.
NOW CANYON 4, CANYON VIEW 1: Ne details reported.