ST. GEORGE — Sockton and Malone couldn't have done it better.
Dixie's John Jensen made a "wall pass" to Mitch Wilkinson at about the 20, then scurried behind his defender to receive the ball back five yards later and promptly kicked it cleanly into the net to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead at the 20-minute mark of the second period of their state 4A quarterfinal soccer game at Walt Brooks Stadium.
Even Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan would have been proud, because it looked like Jensen and Wilkenson had practiced this soccer version of the "give and go" 1,000 times as they executed the move with perfection. The same twosome combined for another goal about 19 minutes later, as Flyer goalkeeper Jake Wixom once again guarded his territory flawlessly, and Dixie (16-1-1) went on to beat Box Elder (9-5-1) 2-0, and advance to the state semifinals next week up north.
It was Wixom's second shutout in as many playoff games this season.
The scoring plays made it look easy, but these plays had deep roots, and could each claim its own chapter in a book titled: "Perfect scoring plays for soccer."
In score No. 1: It was about an 80-yard play where the first 25 yards proved as crucial as the last 25. After a Box Elder penalty, Dixie's Dan Higgins appeared to approach his free kick on his own 23 quite casually, but suddenly noticed his Box Elder defenders were even more casual. Higgins immediately quick-stepped and smoothly advanced the ball with the side of his foot 25 yards to teammate Tadd Challis.
By the time any Box Elder player could react, Challis had danced the ball to midfield, then advanced a shot off his left foot straight down the hashmarks, between a defender's legs, to Jensen at about the 32. Jensen's immediate wall pass to Wilkinson sent four defenders a step or two toward Wilkinson, leaving Jensen open to receive the pass back and launch a nothing-but-net strike from 15 yards out.
By the time the ball left Jensen's foot, six defenders pretty well had him surrounded, but the momentary kick and go had worked perfectly to open a lane, which Jensen hit with precision.
Score No. 2 was not so complicated, but required precision footwork and a fast brain. About 60 yards away from Dixie's goal, the ball deflected off two Box Elder Bees to Wilkinson, who, in the fashion of Deron Williams, instantly split the defenders with the ball 10 yards ahead to Jensen, who scampered and stutter-stepped 35 yards untouched before launching another blast from 15 yards out. At the time of the kick, he again was surrounded by four defenders. But no problem; again, nothing but net.
The scores were Jensen's 20th and 21st on the season. And they could not have come at a better time. Wilkinson, only a freshman, was fresh off a defensive battle Wednesday with Timpview standout Karson Payton. Wilkinson held the T-Birds' leading scorer without a goal.
"I told the team at halftime they had the right idea the first half, even though we were scoreless," said Dixie's coach, Burton Myers. "I told them to keep doing the same things and that we would get more opportunities."
Once again, Myers praised Wixom's goaltending.
"We knew we needed a great goalie this year," said Myers. "Jake has become that confident goalie."
Dixie will now play Bonneville (11-3-2) at Viewmont High School on Tuesday at 6:15 p.m.