SALT LAKE CITY – Championship week is finally here as the 3A state soccer semifinals begin Friday, with the title game being played Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Once again, Region 9 proved to be the deepest region top to bottom, with three of the four teams (Cedar, Desert Hills, Snow Canyon) coming from down south.
Cedar (13-5-0, 7-3-0) takes on Snow Canyon (9-5-4, 6-2-2) Friday night for the right to play in Saturday’s 3A title game. Both teams split during the region season — each winning at home.
Desert Hills (11-5-2, 7-2-1) will go up against Logan (11-4-0, 6-2-0) Friday afternoon, and will face the winner of the Cedar-Snow Canyon game. This is the Thunder’s second consecutive trip to the semifinals after coming up short, 1-0, in the 3A title game against Cedar last year.
No. 2 Cedar vs. No. 3 Snow Canyon, Friday, 6 p.m. (Jordan High School)
The defending champs are just one game away from their second trip the 3A title game. The Lady Reds made school history last year after capturing their first 3A soccer championship and would love nothing more than to add another storybook ending to its season.
“Last year was special, and what we learned from that is that we can’t take a second off,” Cedar head coach Scott Kamachi said. “We know coming in that it’s going to take all 80 minutes to beat a very good Snow Canyon team.”
Cedar comes in having outscored its opponents 8-0 during the first two opening rounds. While the offense can certainly score — led by Nicole Jenkins’ 24 goals this year — it’s the Lady Reds’ defense that continues to shut opponents out.
“We pride ourselves on that,” senior defender Bailey Robinson said. “We’ve been playing together for a long time now, and that chemistry on the back line is a big reason why we’ve been able to have so much success.”
That chemistry will certainly be tested going up against a red hot Snow Canyon team that has won four straight, including an upset over Juan Diego last week.
“We’ve played Juan Diego in the quarterfinals and semifinals five of the last six years, so it was nice to finally be able to get past them after a couple of close calls the past few years,” Snow Canyon head coach Kenny Kunde said.
“It was crazy,” Snow Canyon keeper Madison Mooring recalled when last week’s game came down to penalty kicks. “Our coaches have been great all year at preparing us for these moments, and although I was nervous, I felt confident at the same time. I’m just glad it all worked out.”
With both teams splitting during the regular season, Friday’s contest should be another tight battle.
No. 1 Desert Hills vs. No. 2 Logan, Friday, 3:45 p.m. (Jordan High School)
Despite a plethora of players not feeling well last week, you wouldn’t have noticed by the scores as Desert Hills combined to outscore its opponents 17-1 through the first two rounds of the 3A playoffs.
Luckily for Thunder head coach Benji Nelson, his players are feeling a lot better.
“Everyone’s doing well and is healthy,” Desert Hills coach Benji Nelson said. “Now there are no more excuses.”
After struggling to finish during the first half of the season, the Thunder offense has been on fire during the second half and will certainly give Logan all it can handle.
“All that practice is starting to pay off,” Nelson said. “Everyone has stepped up and the girls are just pumped to finish off the season right this weekend.”
Logan, the No. 2 seed from Region 11, plays a similar up-tempo style as Desert Hills as both teams love putting up points.
“Logan is a very dangerous team. They have several girls who can score and we are going to need another great team effort from everyone,” Nelson said.
Follow Justin Giles on Twitter @Justingiles22.