The Indian boys finished the regular season strong with wins over Burley and Pocatello. They secured top seed in the district tournament with the win over Pocatello giving them a bye on Oct. 5, and home field advantage on Thursday, Oct. 7, at 4 p.m. against the winner of game one. If they lose Preston will host the loser of game one in an elimination match on Tuesday, Oct 12 at 4 p.m. A win on Oct. 7, means the Indians will not play again until Oct. 14, at 4 p.m. when they host the survivor of the Oct. 12 game.
As the high seed Preston can secure the only state berth with just two wins. They are determined but anything can happen in a district tournament. Based on the record this season Pocatello is most likely to be the team to challenge them for that berth. Both teams are hungry after being denied by Century so many times in the past. Though Century is not the team they have been in past seasons, they cannot be counted out.
On Oct. 2, Preston started with a goal by Brian Bustos with eight and a half minutes left in the first half assisted by Treyton Hendrickson. The Indians then held on to that advantage the rest of the game. They stymied a talented Pocatello team who beat them 0-2 earlier in the season. Because Preston beat Century both times and Pocatello only tied them, the Indians earned the number one seed for the 4a District 5 tournament.
“We played a solid game had a lot of opportunities,” said Coach Kira Mathews. “we played good defensively. We came with the right mindset and had a ton of energy.”
That defense was key. Without an insurance goal the pressure was on as there could be no mistakes for the Thunder to capitalize on.
Beginning with the Highland game on Sep. 20 the Indians have really stepped up their game. Particularly the energy level which has served them very well. “that was the first game we have played start to finish really solid, “ said Mathews. “The big thing we have emphasized since that game is our mindset. To come in ready to push and pressure and step hard instead of coming in lazy and lackadaisical. They are starting to see how much potential they have and how good they can be.”
Preston tied Burley 2-2 early in the season but at home on Sep. 30, they won 3-1 for a successful senior night. Before the game, the Indians honored 10 seniors and their parents. Those seniors, some of whom don’t usually start, kicked off the game and played well. “They got the majority of the minutes and did a good job of having energy, being ready and wanting the game,” said Mathews.
Bryan Ricauldi put the first goal in at the five minute mark and Parker Cromwell added to the tally with another 28 minutes in for a 2-0 lead at the half.
The Indians continued to play hard and generated multiple opportunities in the second half but it was Brian Bustos who found the back of the net making the score 3-0 with seven minutes to go. He controlled a pass from Brayden Viterna and buried a shot under the elbow of the diving keeper from about eight yards out.
Burley avoided a shutout by scoring once five minutes later but, despite some good opportunities, was unable to match the Indians.