The first round of the 3A state soccer playoffs begins on Wednesday with Desert Hills, Snow Canyon and Pine View representing Region 9 from St. George.
Desert Hills is making its third consecutive trip to the postseason and is looking for revenge after suffering a heartbreaking loss to Cedar in the championship game at Rio Tinto Stadium last year.
Snow Canyon is making its fifth-straight trip to the 3A playoffs — winning it all in 2012. The Warriors are looking to bounce back after losing to Juan Diego in the first round in a shootout.
Pine View is also making its fifth consecutive trip to state, but unlike the Warriors over the years, the Panthers haven’t been able to get past the first round. Will this be the year to break the streak?
Here is a look at the first round games as well as the potential second round matchups.
No. 1 DESERT HILLS vs. No. 4 RICHFIELD, Wednesday 7:30 p.m.
Thanks to goals from Madi Hansen and Brooklyn Lott, Desert Hills came back to beat the defending champs, 2-1, last week to claim its first Region 9 title outright. Now the Thunder have their sights even higher after coming up short in the title game last year.
“We had a lot of fun and accomplished what we set out to do at the start of the season,” Desert Hills coach Benji Nelson said after winning the region title. “Now it’s all about the playoffs and finishing the season off right.”
Desert Hills (9-5-1), the No. 1 seed from Region 9, takes on the Richfield Wildcats (3-10-1), the No. 4 seed from Region 12 at home in a late Wednesday night contest.
“Everyone is really focused right now and we’re ready to go,” Nelson said. “It’s win or go home and we’ll be playing like it’s the state championship game. We had over 30 shots that have hit the crossbar this year, so our goal this postseason is to finish and to make everything count.”
If Desert Hills can get past Richfield, the Thunder will play the winner of the game between Stansbury and Morgan Saturday afternoon.
No. 3 SNOW CANYON at No. 2 NORTH SANPETE, Wednesday 4 p.m.
Snow Canyon comes into the tournament as a bit of an underdog after finishing third in Region 9, just two points shy of the top spot. The Warriors are clicking at the right time and are one of the hottest teams in 3A after winning three of its past four games — with two shutouts in the process.
“We’re playing really well right now and the chemistry is starting to show,” Snow Canyon coach Kenny Kunde said. “We’ve been working on our game plan over the weekend and have had some great practices leading up to Wednesday.”
Snow Canyon (7-5-4) takes on North Sanpete (6-10-0), the No. 2 seed from Region 12.
“That’s going to be a long bus ride,” Kunde said. “We need to come out ready to go and to play our game by controlling the ball and keeping as much possession as possible.”
With five seniors on the team, inexperience won’t be a problem for the Warriors on Wednesday.
“Those girls are some of the best athletes that I’ve been able to coach,” Kunde said. “We just need to execute and good things will happen.”
If Snow Canyon can get past North Sanpete, the Warriors play the winner of the game between Juan Diego and Grantsville Saturday afternoon. If Juan Diego and Snow Canyon advance, it would mark the fourth consecutive time that both programs have faced each other during the first two opening rounds.
No. 4 PINE VIEW at No. 1 CANYON VIEW, Wednesday 4 p.m.
Pine View looks start a different streak on Wednesday after falling in the first round of the playoffs the previous four years.
Pine View (7-4-4), the No. 4 seed from Region 9, will take on Canyon View (9-6-1), the No. 1 seed from Region 12.
The Panthers and the Falcons are no strangers to each other after playing each other earlier in the year. Pine View went on to win 2-1 at Falcon field.
“That game gives us a lot of confidence, but that was a long time ago,” Pine View coach Sam Johnston said. “It was a good to get the road win, but we’re going to need another one.”
The Panthers are going to have to get it done without star freshman goalkeeper Alena Lorentzen who has sat out the past few games after sustaining a concussion. Claire Newby starts in goal for the Panthers.
“Claire doesn’t have a lot of experience, but she’s athletic,” Johnston said. “We have faith in her and can’t wait for it all to begin.”
The winner of Pine View vs. Canyon View plays the winner of the game between Logan and Tooele Saturday afternoon.
Follow Justin Giles on Twitter @Justingiles22.