Desert Hills stayed atop the bottlenecked Region 9 girls soccer standings Thursday night with a 2-0 road win over Pine View behind goals from Rylie Robinson and McKayla Lewis.
With the win the Thunder (6-1-1, 19 points, Region 9) stay one point ahead of Cedar. The Lady Reds (6-2-0, 18 points) defeated Hurricane 5-0 Thursday afternoon.
The Thunder may be on top the of heap, but a tough week awaits, as second-place Cedar and third-place Snow Canyon, teams that are one and two points, respectively, behind the Thunder.
“All three of us are fighting for first place,” said Desert Hills coach Benji Nelson. “Ultimately, you can see any of these three teams playing in the state championship game. It’s about each of us preparing our teams for the next level.”
The Reds and Warriors are also the only teams to have blemished the Thunder’s region record.
Desert Hills fell 2-1 at Cedar on Sept. 17, thanks to two goals from Nicole Jenkins, before drawing 1-1 at Snow Canyon on Sept. 22.
“I think they’re two of the best teams,” Lewis said. “We’re going to have to put up a fight if we want to stay in first place.”
The Reds visit Desert Hills Tuesday, and Snow Canyon drops by on Thursday. The prize for winning first place includes the right to host playoff games in the first two rounds of the state playoffs.
The loss effectively eliminates Pine View from the region title race, as they are now six points behind the Thunder with two games left. However, on the sunny side for the Panthers, they have already clinched a spot in the 3A state tournament.
Rylee Robinson put Desert Hills ahead in the 28th minute. Robinson took a crack from 35 yards out. The Pine View keeper defended it, but she wasn’t able to keep it out.
“It was hard enough shot to take the keeper into the net,” Nelson said.
“I stepped up from my position, and I took a shot, and I hoped for the best,” Robinson said. “It was a lucky shot.”
Because of the unusual nature of the goal, Nelson had a special message for his team at halftime.
Nelson said he told his team he didn’t want the game to end on that goal. He didn’t want it the game to be won on a goalkeeping miscue, so he challenged his team to add another.
It took the Thunder just five minutes to get that second goal.
Desert Hills’ Brooklyn Lott drove the ball to the left post along the baseline. As she neared the post, she had the full attention of the Pine View defense.
That allowed Lewis to slip into the six-yard box, unnoticed by all except Lott. Lott shuffled the ball to her, and Lewis poked it into the net to make it 2-0 Desert Hills.
“I knew I had to put that one in,” Lewis said. “We had a lot of opportunities, but we’ve been struggling on finishing.”
Nelson said his team possessed well but needed to finish better. Still, he was pleased with the result.
“Another win against a Region 9 team,” Nelson said. “You never know what’s going to happen in this region.”