The fourth time was a charm for the Preston girls soccer team, and its breakthrough victory couldn’t have taken place at a better time.
Third-seeded Preston traveled to Pocatello, Idaho, and left with a 1-0 win over second-seeded Century in a 4A Fifth District Tournament elimination match on Monday. The Diamondbacks (8-5-3) were 3-0 against the Indians (5-11-0) this season and scored late in each of those games on their way to narrow victories.
Tessa Hyde found the back of the net on what Preston head coach Brandon Lyon called “a great combination play with Andie (Bell) with about nine minutes left” in the second half. It was sweet redemption for Bell, who pinged a shot off the crossbar earlier in the match and nearly scored on another occasion.
“The girls played so well, really our best game we’ve played this year as a team,” Lyon said. “They were dialed in from the first whistle to the last and gave a great effort.”
Preston starting goalkeeper Hadlee Ezola suffered an injury about 10 minutes into the second half and was replaced by freshman Ella Marlow, who “made some big plays coming off her line when she had to,” Lyon asserted. Nevertheless, Preston’s second shutout of the season was definitely a team effort.
“Our backline and mids coming back in did not allow a shot on goal the rest of the game despite the pressure,” Lyon said. “I can’t say enough about how the girls defended and attacked as a team. Great team win, but we need to build on this and be ready for Wednesday.”
Preston was square off against top-seeded Pocatello on Wednesday. The Indians will need to prevail Wednesday and once again on Friday in order to win the district tourney and advance to the 4A State Championships. Poky (9-4-4) edged Preston by a single goal in both of their regular season showdowns.