HS boys soccer: Hillcrest beats Blackfoot 3-0 for 4A District 6 title
AMMON — Hillcrest, donning black jerseys for Tuesday’s 4A District 6 home championship game, blackened the eye of the Blackfoot for the third time this fall.
And for the third time, the No. 1-seeded Knights held the No. 3-seeded Broncos scoreless en route to a 3-0 win.
With the victory, Hillcrest (14-1-3) takes the No. 1 seed out of District 6 to this year’s 4A state tournament. Blackfoot (9-5-2) returns to the pitch Thursday to host Idaho Falls for the right to advance to a state play-in game Saturday.
“We knew it was going to be tough,” First-year Hillcrest coach Ryan Ellis said. “Blackfoot’s gotten better each game and the last time we played them it was tough — a 2-0 hard-fought victory — but I feel like we played our game, we can beat anytime in the state. Our boys played awesome.”
On the pitch Tuesday — rainy, cold and abysmal — the Knights were anything but.
After Balor Reilly scored in the 38th minute, a chip shot from the right side of the box, the Knights scored two goals in the second half to win their third straight district title.
Exhausted, as evident by defensive captain Caleb Speirs being carted off the field after collapsing following the final whistle, Hillcrest added an exclamation point by finishing this fall 10-0-2 against district opponents.
“We’ve just been working as a team,” Reilly said. “That’s been the biggest thing for us. Communicating and passing, that’s really been the biggest key for us.”
″(Blackfoot) was a lot better than other times we’ve played them,” Reilly added. “They came out a lot harder.”
A back-and-forth matchup during the first 35 minutes, Reilly’s goal was the catalyst for a Hillcrest team that’s outscored Blackfoot 9-0 this fall.
Blackfoot’s closest chances to get on the scoreboard came from sophomore forward Frankie Garcia during the first half. Garcia’s two shots on goal were both saved as the Knights’ depth and defense in the second half helped them cruise to a seventh straight win.
“I think Hillcrest deserved to win today,” Blackfoot coach Liam Pope said. ” I think if we score one of those first goals in the first half, because I thought for the first half, we really were on top. If we get one of those, maybe it’s different.
I don’t have any arguments with (the outcome). I’m a little disappointed, really ... On all three goals, we made it a little too easy for them.”
Omar Reyes scored 10 minutes into the second half — dampening Blackfoot’s chances after Bo Linchenko spun away from two Bronco defenders to find Reyes on a cross.
Freshman Johan Gaytan Hernandez scored 15 minutes later on a deflection, putting Tuesday’s match out of reach. The Knights finished with 25 shots, 16 on goal.
Blackfoot finished with six shots on goal, as Pope attempted to switch to a 4-4-2 format to help bolster a Blackfoot offense that struggled around the midfield line during the second half.
The tactical change went in vain.
“I think you gotta give credit to Hillcrest’s defense,′ Pope said. “We’ve played them three times now, and we haven’t scored a goal. That unit, as a whole — I don’t I think they have a single dominant defender — but that unit really is a strong defense. They stay tight, they stay compact, they stay in their line, nobody jumps, they way they shift.”