Someone was certain to reach the girls soccer state tournament for the first time in a long time at Saturday’s 4A District 6 tournament second-place game between Bonneville and Idaho Falls.
The No. 2 seeded Bees had not been since 2008 and the No. 3 seeded Tigers had not been since 2004.
Saturday was Bonneville’s day, as the Bees held on for a 1-0 win over the Tigers on their home field in their fourth meeting with Idaho Falls this season. Senior captain Madison Pugmire’s 68th minute free kick was the lone goal in a game that was played in 40 degree temperatures from start to finish and driving rain and wind for the last 20 minutes.
The Bees (12-7-0) had practiced in the wind Friday for that very scenario, so much so that Pugmire had practiced free kicks from the very spot she shot from Saturday.
“One of my teammates actually offered to take it,” Pugmire said. “Once I took it, I turned to my team and said, ‘We’ve got this.’ Ever since my freshman year, state has been a goal. The feeling is indescribable right now.”
Pugmire got a triple dose of celebrations Saturday, receiving rain-soaked embraces after her free kick, finding herself at the bottom of a dogpile after the full time whistles and her teammates spilled onto the field and being named ‘player of the game’ by her coaches.
While elation was the overwhelming postgame emotion, the more prominent feelings following Pugmire’s goal were relief mixed with some tension.
“I would’ve liked for it to have been a little earlier in the game,” Feik said with a laugh. “It was such a relief. She’s spent a lot of time in practice working on her free kicks.”
The first half between the two teams, which met a week earlier in the district semifinals on the same field, ended scoreless but with numerous shots on goal and impressive saves by keepers Lydia Keller (Idaho Falls) and Jazmin Barrientos (Bonneville). The wind picked up in the 20th minute, giving a bit more height and speed to every airborne ball, and didn’t let up for the remainder of the contest.
Paired with the rain in the second half, the wind howled so loudly that players and coaches had difficulty hearing each other at times.
“It is like a wind tunnel out here,” Pugmire said. “When we did communicate, we kept it short and we spoke when we were close to each other.”
After Keller saved back-to-back shots by Bonneville’s Ali Ellsworth, the Tigers had a prime opportunity to score in the 45th minute. Idaho Falls senior Kendra Billman took a shot and the ball kept rolling loose toward the goal line before Barrientos could get back. Bonneville senior defender Alissa Andrus then slid her body in front of the ball to stop it, drawing cheers from the Bees’ bench.
“That’s the second game where she’s saved it off the line,” Feik said.
In the 63rd minute, an Idaho Falls goal was called back. Five minutes later, Bonneville received a free kick which Pugmire sent into the top left corner of the net. The intensity didn’t wane for the rest of the contest, as Keller made two big saves and Idaho Falls took a corner kick and a free kick in the final seven minutes.
“I thought we were the better team today,” Idaho Falls coach David Adams said. “It was kind of a heartbreaker for us to go out on a free kick. We changed our formation just slightly I should say to try to penetrate their defense a little more. Hats off to Bonneville, for sure.”
Bonneville begins its first state tournament appearance this decade versus three-time defending state champion Bishop Kelly at 2 p.m. Thursday at Brothers Park in Caldwell. To commemorate ending the postseason drought after Saturday’s win, the Bees hurried to a shed at the northwest corner of their field. Inside that shed was their goal board, on which qualifying for state was listed.
“That’s the first thing I did was cross that off our goal board,” Feik said.
Idaho Falls ended the season 10-7-0, their best record and first winning season in close to a decade, per Post Register records. Adams credits I.F.’s transformation to the Tigers recognizing their potential, and he commended the leadership and work ethic of his six seniors in his first season as head coach.
“As a dad and spectator last year, I felt like I saw the potential there,” Adams said. “It’s been fun to see the girls realize it within themselves. They bought in real quick. I told them they really had one responsibility at the beginning of the year and that was to love each other. It’s a great group of kids.”