One thing was certainly clear in the opening moments of Dixie’s semifinal match with Juan Diego: Alex Green was going to get opportunities.
The Flyers controlled the tempo of the game early, pressured the Soaring Eagle’s defense and found the one goal tthey needed to take down the team they defeated two years ago in the championship game.
“We were just looking to come up and get the goal that we needed and take control of the match like we did,” Flyers goalkeeper Hayden Matthews said. “From that point, we were just looking to keep them underneath us.”
Relentless pressure preceded the Flyers’ lone goal, and much of it came from balls going to or coming from Green.
In the 5th minute, Green threw-in from the corner, a long enough throw to force the Soaring Eagle goalkeeper to punch the ball over, resulting in a Flyers’ corner kick.
Ten minutes later, Green wrangled a through-ball deep into the 18-yard box. With just the keeper to beat, Green sent the ball to the far post, but it went just wide and out of bounds.
With Green coming so close, the Flyers ramped up their efforts to feed him and sent ball after ball to the sprinting forward.
“Me and Konner Aitken are pretty quick, so we’re just trying to use us as much as we can,” Green said.
The forward had a foot on five balls, either shots or collecting through passes, in five minutes, causing him to ask for a breather.
Green checked back in in the 17th minute, after a Juan Diego corner kick caused some panic for Dixie. Flyers head coach Burt Myers’ hat smashed into the turf, but no harm was done.
Juan Diego’s Christian Jouvin threw a shoulder into Aitken along the sideline a few minutes later, resulting in a free kick from the 35-yard line on the Juan Diego side of the half line.
Green set up to take the kick facing the goal, and Myers motioned Aitken to make a run down the sideline.
“I just wanted their defense thinking, ‘Oh heck. What are they going to do over here,’ and they all just kind of lacked focus, so our guys could get around them,” Myers said.
As Aitken made his run, Green sent a low swinging ball toward the far post that bounced once and touched nothing but the net.
“When Myers told Konner to go down the sideline, I just thought about sending it to the back post, so someone could get a flick on, but no one did,” Green said. “It just went in the side netting.”
The Soaring Eagle dipped into desperation in the final minutes of the game, sending a flurry of crosses, passes and shots toward Matthews.
But Matthews and the Flyers defense held.
“They’re a very good squad,” Matthews said. “They had a lot of good opportunities, just nothing went in for them — a perfect result for us.”
With Pine View falling to Cedar, Dixie represents the highest seed left in the tournament and will be the home team Saturday in the final at Rio Tinto at 11 a.m.
“It’s going to be a Cedar-Dixie matchup,” Myers said. “Scott Kamachi runs a great program. We’ve got a couple secrets, and I’m sure he’s got a couple secrets. We got to be on our toes for something unexpected, and they will (be) too.”