The number of foldout chairs lining field one at the Idaho Falls Soccer Complex was an early indication of how much both the Madison and Skyline girls soccer teams looked forward to Tuesday’s game.
The early season contest had it all—speedy play, powerful shots, staunch defense and big saves by keepers Rylee Blanchard (Skyline) and Rachel Hicks (Madison)—for the nonconference opponents and defending district champions in their respective classifications. For the second year in a row, Madison was victorious as senior forward Annalise Brunson completed a hat trick to give the Bobcats the 3-0 win.
The Utah Valley commit scored unassisted in the 24th minute, off a Breckley Birch assist in the 65th minute and off assists by Birch and Ellie Allen in the 76th minute. Additionally, Tuesday was the first time Madison has held Skyline scoreless since 2016, something Brunson and Madison head coach Jaymon Birch don’t take lightly.
“Our center backs played awesome,” Brunson said. “They killed it. Skyline’s always been a great team. We’re always excited to play them.”
Those center backs, Julia Williams and Ali Dummar, put on a show. Williams sent Skyline corner kicks back out of the box, took multiple free kicks for the Bobcats and tag teamed with Dummar to stuff Grizz shot attempts in a competitive game where neither team let up.
“She had so many one versus ones,” Brunson said. “She’s super tall and really fast.”
Coach Birch, who has compared Williams to U.S. women’s national team defender Abby Dahlkemper, said Williams has great range.
“She’s got a great leg,” coach Birch said. “She scored on a free kick during our last game.”
Players and spectators were not the only ones who looked forward to Tuesday’s contest. Skyline head coach Kip Archibald and Madison coach Birch, who work down the hall from each other at the Idaho National Laboratory, said they both discussed the game multiple times leading up to Tuesday.
“We circle it on our calendar,” coach Birch said. “It’s great to have an early season test like that. They’re such a good team.”
Archibald, who exchanged multiple handshakes and well wishes with Birch and the Madison coaches postgame, expressed similar sentiments to his colleague.
“It’s always a battle,” Archibald said. “There’s so many great players on both sides. It’s fun to watch. I’m happy with my girls and how they played.”
Skyline (1-1-0) begins 4A District 6 play on Thursday at Blackfoot while Madison (2-0-0) hosts Boise on Friday for the first of back-to-back home games versus District 3 opponents.