At Shelley High School, No. 2 seeded Shelley took down No. 1 seeded Sugar-Salem in penalty kicks Thursday to win its third consecutive 3A District 6 girls soccer title.
The Diggers entered Thursday’s game 15-0-1 and were responsible for Shelley’s two losses this season by scores of 3-2 and 2-0. Shelley coach Jim Gregory said there was “extreme jubilation” after sophomore Kaysha Sadovich drilled her penalty kick into the net to the left of the keeper to end the marathon game.
“She put the ball in the net and you could almost hear everybody take a breath,” Gregory said. “It was just ecstatic.”
Shelley led 1-0 at halftime off a 21st minute goal by senior Abbey Crandall. Sugar-Salem got an equalizer in the 55th minute and Shelley regained the lead with a 65th minute goal by senior Brittney Baron. The Russets kept that lead until the final minute of full time, when Gregory said the Diggers tied it at 2-2 with 16 seconds left to force overtime.
“They popped a ball toward the goal keeper,” Gregory said. “(Our keeper) Jenna (Tenerowicz) came out a little bit on it and it hit the field really funny and bounced over her head. It was like, ‘Oh my gosh, how could this happen?’ We were there waiting to celebrate and suddenly we have overtime.”
The game went to two overtimes with the score locked at 2-2. Gregory said Shelley had some chances to score but none found the back of the net and their defense held Sugar-Salem off the scoreboard as well. Penalty kicks were prompted, and Gregory said Shelley made three of their four attempted shots. Sugar-Salem sent its first shot over the crossbar and Tenerowicz saved the other two. Senior Emma Stohl, sophomore Daniela Quintero-Reyes and Sadovich made Shelley’s penalty kicks.
Gregory said the Russets focused on possession when preparing to face the Diggers, who feature eight seniors and have six more players on their varsity roster than Shelley.
“They’re a quick team,” Gregory said of Sugar-Salem. “They’re experienced, to say the least. We focused a lot against them on possession, both being first to the ball and just possessing with just accurate passing.”
Shelley has now won five of the last six 3A District 6 girls soccer titles. Gregory said the three-peat is a special legacy for his seniors.
“To win it three times in a row is pretty rare,” Gregory said.
Shelley (15-2-0) begin the 3A state tournament Thursday with a 2 p.m. match against the No. 2 seed from District 4. Sugar-Salem (15-1-1) faces Malad on Saturday at 3 p.m. at Bonneville High School in a state play-in game.
3A District 6 boys soccer championship
SUGAR-SALEM 5, TETON 0: At Shelley High School, No. 1 seeded Sugar-Salem upended No. 2 seeded, and defending district and state champion, Teton to claim the 3A District 6 championship.
Bridger Esplin scored twice and Logan Tingey, Spencer Dayley and Ace Christensen all scored to help the Diggers beat the Redskins 5-0 and advance to state for the fourth-consecutive season.
“This team is making history,” Sugar-Salem coach Oscar Bustos said.
Bustos added that district games always brings “a bit of anxiety” for him and his coaching staff. But the magnitude of the Diggers’ season surely didn’t help Thursday, either.
The Diggers have outscored opposing teams an unprecedented 100-3 this season, Bustos said, on their way to their first undefeated (17-0-0) regular season.
But Bustos said his players managed that anxiety fine by “pacing the game really well”. He said his team wanted to score early and quickly, but finally broke the game open with back-to-back goals in the 38th and 39th minute.
“Good defense is our thing,” said Bustos, who praised his veteran defenders and sophomore goalkeeper Rylan Bean. “It only take one goal to win.”
Similar to 4A District 6 champions Blackfoot, Sugar-Salem played with a heavy heart against Teton.
Bustos said the Sugar-Salem community lost a rising junior, Cade Stoddard, before the season. Mr. Stoddard was involved in the Diggers’ pre-game pep talk, Bustos said. He said the Diggers have attributed their season to Stoddard.
“I’m happy for this team and happy for this school,” he added.
Sugar-Salem will play Thursday at Vallivue High School. Kickoff is at 11 a.m.
Teton (10-3-0) will play Marsh Valley in a 1 p.m. state play-in game Saturday at Bonneville High School.