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Heidi Smith helps Snow Canyon advance to 4A semifinals

ST. GEORGE — Talking to Snow Canyon junior forward Heidi Smith, one would never guess the soft-spoken, slightly built blonde was a fiercely driven soccer wizard.

Smith scored a goal and created another by drawing a foul in the box as the Warriors defeated Ogden 2-0 Saturday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the 4A state soccer tournament at Warrior Stadium.

"It was a physical game, more so than region games because this is state," Smith said. "But I thrive on that. I feed off of the physicality, definitely. It can be scary, but it doesn't stop me. And if they're bigger than me, I just go around them instead of going through them."

Smith, notching her 22nd goal of the season, was a thorn in Ogden's side the entire contest, drawing numerous whistles. With just under 25 minutes left in the game and the score still 0-0, Smith moved on a defender and then drew the Ogden goalkeeper out. Smith prepared for an empty-net goal, but was tackled from behind by a Tiger defender.

After going down hard, Smith elected to let teammate Adi Melendez take the resulting penalty kick. Melendez nailed a perfect grounder into the left corner of the net to make it a 1-0 Warrior lead with 24:33 left on the clock.

"Heidi was super nice and trusting of my ability to take that penalty kick," Melendez said. "We've been working on those a lot the past week and a half in practice."

Smith said the Tiger defender had no choice but to make the tackle on the box.

"It was a smart play because it's better to foul and have a chance that we might not score than to give up the sure goal," she said.

Later in the second half, Smith received a perfect aerial cross from Tylei Jensen and headed in the Warriors' second goal of the game with 7:38 left to play. The rest of the game, Ogden never got close and Snow Canyon (14-1-3) punched its ticket into the state semifinals.

"We expected a physical game," Snow Canyon coach Kenny Kunde said. "All the different teams we talked to said Ogden was very, very physical. Heidi Smith is just a gritty kind of player, so when it's intense and physical like that, she and a couple of our other players really step to the forefront."

Kunde, who was sporting his own version of a playoff beard (he hasn't shaved since Snow Canyon last lost a game back in early August), is taking his team to the state semifinals for the fourth straight season. Unfortunately for Warriors fans, all three previous semifinal trips have resulted in losses, including last year's defeat in a penalty kick shootout against Bonneville.

"What we're saying is fourth time's a charm," Kunde said. "We're playing Logan and we're excited for the matchup."

Megan Rodgers recorded the shutout in goal for the Warriors against Ogden. The Tigers, who came into the contest averaging 2.8 goals per game, finish the season with an 11-7-1 record.