Varsity Extra

Still unbeatable: Bishop Kelly girls soccer extends its streak with another district title

Bishop Kelly’s Alexis Pond fires into an empty net for the only goal in the 4A District Three girls soccer championship Thursday at Middleton High School.
Bishop Kelly’s Alexis Pond fires into an empty net for the only goal in the 4A District Three girls soccer championship Thursday at Middleton High School. doswald@idahostatesman.com

Kuna continues to give the Bishop Kelly High girls soccer team as many fits as anyone.

But the Knights keep on rolling.

Bishop Kelly scored a 1-0 victory over Kuna at Middleton High on Thursday night for its 11th straight 4A District Three championship.

The win stretched Bishop Kelly’s unbeaten streak to 83 games and sends the Knights (18-0-1) into the 4A state tournament as the Southern Idaho Conference’s top seed. The three-time defending state champ will open its title defense against the runner-up from East Idaho — Bonneville or Idaho Falls — at 2 p.m. Oct. 24 at Brothers Park in Caldwell.

Junior Alexis Pond scored the game’s only goal in the 68th minute. It wasn’t pretty, and it didn’t need to be.

Junior forward Sara Sabala took the ball up the left side and blew by her defender, but she lost her footing as she maneuvered into the box. She kicked the ball back to the center of the field in hopes that a teammate would be there.

Pond was.

“It was just a follow-up,” Pond said. “(Sabala) did it. I give her the credit.

“I’d give it a four out of 10, but in the moment it was a 10 out of 10. I’m going to remember this for the rest of my life.”

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Bishop Kelly celebrates the lone goal in their 4A District Three girls soccer championship game against Kuna on Thursday. Darin Oswald doswald@idahostatesman.com

Kuna (16-2-1) had a few chances for an equalizer in the closing minutes, but Bishop Kelly proved why it has one of the state’s top defenses. The Knights suffocated every Kuna attack to post their 18th consecutive shutout.

Bishop Kelly has allowed only one goal all season, and the perennial state power has made a lot of games look easy. But Kuna has challenged the Knights.

“Everyone was gassed,” BK coach Meagan Lyons said. “Everyone gave it their all. A couple of the girls were ready to puke at the end of the 80 minutes because they were giving it everything they had.”

The Kavemen ended Bishop Kelly’s 66-game win streak in August with a 0-0 draw, then fell 2-0 on the Knights’ home field in September. But Lyons credits that August tie for relieving some of the pressure.

“The more wins that come, the more the pressure mounts,” Lyons said. “Tying Kuna at the beginning of the year killed the hype, which was nice. Then we could just play.”

Kuna already clinched a state tournament berth before Thursday. The Kavemen will face Twin Falls (18-0-1) on the opposite side of the bracket at 11 a.m. Oct. 24 at Caldwell’s Brothers Park.

Lyons said Kuna won’t be an easy out for anyone it faces.

“Every time you play Kuna, you know it’s gonna be a battle,” she said. “They have a great team and a lot of great talent. They are gonna give people a run for their money at state.”

As for Bishop Kelly, Pond knows what the plan is for state. No soccer team — boys or girls, in any classification — has won four consecutive state titles. But the Knights have a shot next week.

“We are No. 1,” Pond said. “We have to stay No. 1. That’s the mentality. We want to keep on that winning grind. We’re ready to go in and kick some butt.”

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Bishop Kelly goalkeeper Natalie Phillips stops a run at goal by Kuna’s Aminah Bah in the 4A District Three girls soccer championship Thursday. Darin Oswald doswald@idahostatesman.com

CALDWELL BOYS SOCCER REPEATS AS DISTRICT CHAMPS

The Cougars (16-2-1) won their second straight district title and fourth in five years with a 2-1 victory over Emmett on Thursday in Kuna.

Jaime Magana and Clay Walton scored for Caldwell, which opens its state title defense against the East Idaho runner-up — Hillcrest or Skyline — at 2 p.m. Oct. 24 at Brothers Park. Damian Arguello and Yahir Esquivel chipped in assists.

Emmett (12-6-1) returns to the state tournament for the first time in four years. It faces Jerome (14-3-1) at 11 a.m. Oct. 24 at Brothers Park in the first round.

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