IDAHO FALLS — There's an old adage in sports that it is tough to beat a team three times in a season. On Thursday afternoon the Blackfoot soccer team proved that to be correct as they knocked off the defending 4A state champion Bonneville Bees in thrilling fashion as Carlos Flores knocked home the game winner five minutes into the sudden death overtime for the 2-1 victory.
"When Carlos is on his game he is just a phenomenal player," Blackfoot head coach Liam Pope said. "Even when we were on the bus on the way up here you could tell that he was ready to lead, ready to go and his spark was just massive for us."
Blackfoot out shot the Bees 13-10 on the afternoon but none were bigger than the game winner. With the game tied after 80 minutes of play the two teams headed back to the pitch for the first of the two ten minute overtimes. If no scores would have been made then the game would have been settled on penalty kicks but of course it never came to that.
Senior Gerardo Bartolo was able to place a perfect through ball up the sideline just in front of the Blackfoot bench when Flores spun, took the bouncing pass and then fired the ball top shelf, just under the cross bar and just over the fingertips of the leaping Bonneville defender. As the ball hit the back of the net the Blackfoot bench erupted in jubilation as they chased Flores into the corner and then dog piled on the ecstatic senior.
"When I saw the through ball I was able to see the goal keeper coming out," Flores said. "I've been playing forward since I was three years old and I just aimed it, shot it and it went in. All of the seniors and our whole team have had the goal of winning districts and going to state. We knew that we could do it and we did."
Coach Pope had a slightly different take on the game winner but was just as happy with the end result all the same.
"When Carlos first kicked the ball I thought what are you doing because I felt that he was past the defender and could have gotten a little closer," Coach Pope said. "But when it went in I thought well, he's just better than me. I don't know how it is to do what he just did because I've never done it but I am just really happy that he did it."
Flores also had Blackfoot's first goal of the afternoon which at the time gave the Broncos a 1-0 lead just four minutes into the second half.
It looked as if that lead was going to hold as the Blackfoot defense was simply stifling, as they shut down the conference's leading scorer all afternoon.
"Ben Hong was huge against Dennis and Luis Oseguera was spot on all afternoon on the back line," Coach Pope said. "The first two times we played Bonneville we played Dennis faced up, played our normal game and said here we are go ahead and beat us, which they did. Today we changed it up and had Ben Hong shadow Dennis everywhere he went and he was just massive for us defensively. He was the difference in the game today."
Needing a goal to force the overtime, Bonneville came roaring back as they threw everything plus the kitchen sink at the Blackfoot defense in a late rush to prolong the the contest. A rebounded shot past Ozzy Oseguera was finally able to sneak it's way into the Blackfoot net in the seventy-sixth minute of play but Blackfoot never dropped their heads after the goal.
"We are a good team, not to say that our teams in the past haven't been but we were strong and this team carries a little more attitude than other teams in the past," Coach Pope said. "Today, that attitude carried us. When Bonneville scored to tie the game we could have crumbled but we didn't. We had that never say die attitude and we just kept up the attack until the final whistle."
Flores echoed his coaches sentiments.
"Bonneville is a good team but even though they beat us earlier in the year we never believed that they were a better team than us," Flores said. "We just needed to overcome ourselves and believe that we could beat them and we did."
Blackfoot will now look to carry that belief into the state tournament which will begin on Thursday at 2:00 P.M. in Caldwell against an opponent that will be determined by a play in game on Saturday.