Printed on: October 03, 2012

I.F. boys score upset; Grizz girls notch a win

By Michael Lycklama
mlycklama@postregister.com

The twice-annual Emotion Cup pits the Idaho Falls and Skyline boys and girls soccer teams against each other under the lights at Ravsten Stadium. And for the past two years, Skyline has reigned.

The Skyline girls team kept up its end of the tradition with a 2-1 win against its District 91 rival. But the Idaho Falls boys team flipped the script, knocking off the conference-leading Grizz 4-2.

The win was the first for the Idaho Falls boys in four tries against Skyline as the Grizz took control of the rivalry. While the Tigers were assured of their place in a district play-in game Saturday, the rivalry gave Idaho Falls plenty to play for, including a chance to play the spoiler.

Idaho Falls' 4-2 win kept Skyline from locking up its second straight regular-season conference title. Skyline (11-4-1 overall, 4-3-1 conference) must await the result of today's match between Hillcrest and Madison to learn its fate. Any result but a Hillcrest victory ensures Skyline the conference title.

Idaho Falls senior Max DiNicola said the win also boosts the Tigers heading into Saturday's district play-in round, where a loss would end their season. Idaho Falls will play Madison at a yet-to-be-determined location.

"It's definitely gives us a lot of confidence," DiNicola said. "We were coming off a two-game losing streak. This is exactly what we needed going into the playoffs."

DiNicola led the upset charge, providing the assist on three goals, including two off of set pieces.

DiNicola made it 1-1 in stoppage time at the end of the first half when he chipped a free kick from 35 yards out up into the wind, allowing junior forward Chris Sanders to run onto it for the header.

Eight minutes after halftime, DiNicola drilled a low free kick from 40 yards out with the wind to his back. The cross skipped into the box and Chris Lehto cleaned it up for the 2-1 lead.

DiNicola then sent a through ball forward in the 75th minute, allowing Sanders to run onto the loose ball and sneaking a sliding shot into the net.

"He's a senior," Idaho Falls coach Ryan Cook said of DiNicola. "It's his third year in this game, so he understands the pressure, understands the field. He gets it. He understands when to play a lofted ball, when to play a driven ball."

The Skyline boys fired 27 shots at the Idaho Falls net, but only seven found their target. The Skyline girls didn't make the same mistake, turning 27 shots into 12 shots on goal, a pair of scores that made it 2-0 against its rival on the season.

The Grizz wasted little time as Skyline senior forward Brooklyn Anderson put her team on the board with a fifth-minute goal when she ran onto a pass from Megan Aumeier.

Idaho Falls tied it when Brooke Klaass ran down a ball that Skyline goalkeeper Mackenzie Jackman came out to challenge but couldn't control. Klaass then tapped it in for the equalizer.

But Skyline freshman Citlalli Sanchez netted the game winner in the 49th minute.

Sanchez's strike guaranteed Skyline (10-3-1, 5-2-1) the conference's second seed heading into the district tournament, which comes with a first-round home game. It will host Highland at 4 p.m. Tuesday at the Idaho Falls Soccer Complex.

"That means a lot," Skyline coach Kip Archibald said. "We did not want to go to Pocatello. We struggle in Pocatello. It'll be nice to have a home playoff game here."

Idaho Falls junior goalkeeper Madi Duffin made 10 saves to keep her team within striking distance. But the Tigers couldn't reward her effort with another score.

"She's kind of a brick wall," Idaho Falls coach Shelby Whiting said. "Unless it's an amazing shot, which both of theirs were, she doesn't miss."

Idaho Falls (8-7-1, 1-6-1) faces Madison in a district play-in game at 1 p.m. Saturday. A location has not been determined yet.