The Lady Indians eliminated Century from the 4a District 5 tournament on Oct. 13, in Pocatello giving them a shot at the district title but they were unable to defeat Pocatello on Oct. 15 to stay alive. With just one state berth available, Preston’s season ended without a chance to defend last year’s state title.
“Last week was definitely a rollercoaster of emotions,” said Coach Brandon Lyon. “The game on Monday at Century was absolutely the high point of the season. Everything clicked and the girls played outstanding.”
The score was 0-0 until the final minutes of the game when Preston scored and then held off the Diamondbacks for the first time this year to win 1-0 and extend their season.
“Everything we'd been building toward showed through and we really felt as if we turned a corner. Had that breakthrough we'd been waiting for,” Lyon said. “We created many great opportunities and with about nine minutes left in the game Andie found Tessa with a great ball into the box, and Tessa finished it.”
And they did it without senior keeper Hadlee Ezola who was injured in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
“Defensively it was absolutely our best game of the season,” said Lyon. “Especially considering we lost Hadlee in the goal to an injury with about 25-30 left in the game. Ella Marlow came in a did outstanding and the backline did not allow a clean shot on goal for the remainder of the game.”
Against Pocatello on Oct. 15, the result was not what they had hoped for.
“We felt very good about where we were at heading into the game at Pocatello and for the majority of the game the girls played like we were capable of playing,” Lyon said. “But one of the things we struggled with all year was finishing our chances and that came back to haunt us in this game. Despite having the majority of the ball and the chances we weren't able to capitalize. And Poky, when they got their few chances, they took advantage.”
Samantha Palmer scored in the first half for Preston and the score was tied 1-1, but two goals by the Thunder late in the second half put the game out of reach for the Indians, who lost 1-3.
“Despite the loss and our season not ending the way we envisioned, as coaches we are so proud of these girls and what they did this year,” said Coach Lyon. “Our schedule was brutal, easily the toughest in the state, and consequently our record wasn't what we thought it would be. But these girls never gave up, never quit, where many teams would. They stayed positive, stayed together as a team, and kept fighting. We know we were good enough to make it back to state and challenge for the state title again, but sometimes it just doesn't work out that way. What these girls learned along the way and through this process will go a long way in teaching them about perseverance and never giving up.”
Preston loses seven seniors who have been a big part of the program and left it all on the field every game.
“We say goodbye to seven incredible seniors,” said Lyon. “Hadlee Ezola, Andie Bell, Taya Nielson, Sydney Kelley, Tessa Hyde, Samantha Whiteley, and Mickayla Robertson. These seniors have been the epitome of what high school athletes should be. From day one as freshmen, they have been as hard working a class as I've ever coached. They have always been great teammates and developed into great soccer players. They graduate with a state championship and a strong legacy left on this program.”
“Despite the blip that this season was, no doubt we will be back at the top soon.”