The Indians certainly picked a good time to piece together their best three-minute stretch of a pivotal 4A Fifth District Tournament match.
Top-seeded Preston scored twice in the final three minutes of the second half and earned a hard-fought 3-1 victory over second-seeded Pocatello on a rainy Friday in Preston. The Indians are now just one win away from punching their ticket to the 4A Boys State Soccer Championships.
“We played well the whole game, just struggled with shooting on frame,” Preston head coach Kira Matthews said. “And when they tied the game up, it was like it finally clicked and (our guys) wanted that game so bad, so to keep their heads and finish that game strong was amazing to watch.”
In the process, Preston extended its season-best unbeaten streak to seven. Simply put, it’s been a remarkable turnaround for the Indians, who lost three straight matches before rattling off six wins and one draw during their last seven games.
Preston (9-5-2) conceded 12 goals during those back-to-back-to-back loses — in all fairness, eight of them were in one match — but has only allowed six goals during its unbeaten streak.
“Defensively, we’ve really been on them about having a defensive mindset, meaning their goal is to get a shutout — not to worry about offense and the goals being scored — and then to be confident in what they are doing,” Matthews said. “A lot of times on the backline, you have to make a choice and if you hesitate in that choice, that’s when we were getting beat.”
Parker Cromwell recorded a brace for Preston, while teammate Tyce Shumway contributed with a goal and an assist. Shumway gave the Indians a 1-0 lead in the second half.
Pocatello (9-5-2) was able to equalize, but Cromwell provided the heroics just in the nick of time, inasmuch as there was lightning in the area right after the match ended, Matthews said.
Parker Kofoed assisted on Cromwell’s go-ahead goal, and then Cromwell added an insurance goal less than three minutes later. Shumway was credited with an assist on the sequence, which started with a corner kick.
Preston will host either Pocatello or third-seeded Century (2-7-4) next Wednesday at 4 p.m. Preston is 2-1 against Poky this season and 2-0 against Century. Poky and Century will square off Monday in an elimination game.
“It means a lot to get our home field (advantage), especially after the tough start we had to the season,” Matthews said. “To turn it around in such a way that we get to host, it really is a big boost for our confidence in trying to get to state.”