ST. GEORGE – No soccer coach in the state was more successful last year than Dixie’s Burt Myers.
Myers’ Flyers won state in both boys and girls soccer in 2013.
Monday night, Myers’ magic worked once again. With his team flailing in the first 20 minutes, a strategic switch catapulted the Flyers girls team to an impressive 4-0 victory over visiting 5A Cottonwood.
Cottonwood looked strong early, dominating for a long stretch during the first quarter hour. That’s when Myers sent some of his stronger players forward.
“I moved some of our more mature girls up, and when they moved forward, we gained a little more possession and had some more opportunities,” Myers said.
Shortly after the switch, Dixie had a momentum-changing flurry of shots. On one possession, Alexa Estridge, one of the players Myers moved ahead, placed two deadly shots on goal. Cottonwood deflected them away, and Cassidy Gray’s rebound shot trickled wide left.
The series may not have yielded a goal, but it gave Dixie a noticeable boost of confidence and broke Cottonwood’s grasp on the game. Dixie dominated thereafter.
The Flyer midfield seemed impenetrable during the final hour of the game, and on the rare occasions the Colts broke through, the Flyer back four was there to dismiss the Colt attack without argument.
Meanwhile, Estridge and Starlee Wodbury began an all-out assault on the Cottonwood goal. The Colts had no answer for Estridge’s skill nor Woodbury’s pace. This allowed the Flyers to get toward the Cottonwood penalty area with relative ease.
Durrant, Gray, and Jenna McNary did a great job of getting open within the penalty area for much of the game.
The only downside to this was Dixie’s finishing. That’s where sophomore Lizzie Durrant intervened, as she keyed the win with two second-half goals.
Up until Durrant’s first goal, the Flyers struggled to make the final combination. But Durrant’s goal seemed to break the dam, as Dixie scored three goals in 10 minutes.
“When Liz reaches her potential, look out,” Myers said. “I don’t believe we’ve seen it yet. When she learns to control the game like we saw for a 10-minute span, wow!”
In the 62nd minute, Durrant scored her first goal with a bullet from the top of the box. Her second goal came about 10 minutes later when Avrie Wittwer’s cross found her near the baseline on the left edge of the box. Despite the shallow angle, Durrant fired a well-placed low shot that snuck through to the far post.
“The coaches told us at halftime that we needed to control possession in the second half,” Durrant said. “When we’d get new people in, we’d get them on the same page. It was like we could read each others minds. We knew what everyone was doing.”
That intra-teammate understanding allowed Dixie to launch one attack after another the entire second half.
Ashlyn Smith scored the breakthrough goal in the 43rd minute when her shot scraped off a Cottonwood defender and went into the net.
Cassidy Gray recorded the third goal lofting a nice volley over the Cottonwood goalie that settled into the net.
Dixie travels to Uintah and Springville this weekend before opening region play against Hurricane. Myers said Aubri Challis, a star from last year’s team who has been recovering from an ACL tear and a pulled hamstring, will likely play in the region opener.