SHELLEY – District soccer tournaments began on Saturday, at least for the High Country Conference, and the first match-up was between Shelley and Bonneville, the number four and five seeds in the conference.
The game was a dogfight from the outset and with both teams grudgingly allowing the other team to even enter the defensive zone, most of the first half was played in the middle of the field, with plenty of pushing, shoving and hard hits as each team was trying to obtain an advantage over the other.
By halftime of the cold, windy and blustery day, both teams were still trying to obtain an advantage on the scoreboard, which still read 0-0 after a hard fought 40 minutes.
Finally, Bonneville seized the advantage, scoring on a rebound to take the lead at 1-0 with about 30 minutes remaining to be played.
Shelley came right back on the attack and things were seemingly going better for the Russets than for the Bees, but still no additional scoring for either team.
Then, Shelley got a 4-on-2 attack started and let fly with a shot on goal. The ball bounced off the goal keeper, and right into the wheel house of a Shelley player who let fly with a shot that ended up in the back of the net and the game was tied at 1-1, with less than 20 minutes remaining in the contest.
If anything, the goal by Shelley fired up Bonneville even more as the Bees took the attack to the Russets. The only problem with that strategy is that you can overplay the ball and that is what Bonneville did, putting the Russets at an advantage and at 7:49 remaining in the contest, one of Shelley’s top players was able to produce a shot that just cleared the outstretched hands of the goal keeper and settled into the back of the net for a Russets lead at 2-1.
The remainder of the game became a game of keep-away. For Shelley, keep the ball away from their zone of the field and for Bonneville, just keep the ball away from Shelley as they tried to mount an attack.
When the referee blew his whistle moments later, the Russets had moved on in the tournament and would take on the top-seeded Hillcrest Knights on Monday at Hillcrest. The other match slated for Monday featured the Blackfoot Broncos and the Skyline Grizzlies playing at 4 p.m. as well at the Idaho Falls Soccer Complex.
In girls’ action, another district tournament game took place on Saturday between Blackfoot and Shelley. This was another so-called play-in game and the two teams had just faced each other on Tuesday night, with Shelley producing a 2-0 win over Blackfoot on their Senior Night.
This game was much different, as the two teams went at each other as if the world championships were on the line.
Blackfoot was playing inspired soccer and were putting seven players into the defensive end of the field to give additional support of their goal keeper. The play worked as the two teams went at it for better than 25 minutes of the first half.
That was when the Lady Broncos were able to send the ball down the field to a pair of streaking Broncos and just like that, the ball went past the Shelley goal keeper and the Lady Broncos held a 1-0 lead. The strategy on the field never changed, and it was back to packing the zone on the defensive side while Shelley tried to find an opening and could not.
The game would go to the half with the score in favor of Blackfoot 1-0.
The second half was more of the same and the scoreboard stood silent for better than 27 minutes when Shelley got a shot on goal and the rebound came out to another Shelley player to made good on her shot and the game was tied at 1-1.
It was less than three minutes later and Shelley was again on the attack and slashed a shot past the Blackfoot goal keeper and the Russets faithful let loose with a yell and horns were honking as the Russets had a 2-1 lead.
Six minutes later, the lead grew to 3-1 when the Blackfoot team misplayed a shot and the rebound was soundly put back into the net.
Blackfoot did not surrender, if anything it only inspired them to even better soccer. They worked the ball down the field and when a Shelley player was called for a foul inside the box, the Blackfoot team was awarded a penalty kick.
Up stepped senior Dessi Sanchez and she calmly put the ball past the goal keeper to get the Broncos a goal closer at 3-2 in favor of Shelley.
The final four minutes of play was as hectic as you might imagine as Shelley tried to keep the Broncos from even touching the ball and the Broncos doing everything in their power to get one more shot on the goal to try and tie things up.
Back and forth things went, both teams hustling and banging and pushing as best as they could without drawing the ire of the officials and it was almost a relief with the referee blew the whistle, ending the contest with Shelley leading 3-2.
With the win, Shelley moved on to play Skyline Monday while Blackfoot’s season has come to an end.