CALDWELL – The Blackfoot Broncos rode the right foot of senior Gerardo Bartolo all the way into the 4A State Soccer Championship game. The talented striker knocked in not one, not two, but all three Blackfoot goals in a hard fought 3-2 victory over Skyview on Friday afternoon at Caldwell High School.
“Right from the beginning of the game you could tell that we were all focused and ready to go,” Bartolo said. “We want to win a championship so badly and we came out attacking, attacking and just taking the game to them. To get three goals, my senior year, well that feels amazing.”
Indeed Bartolo and the rest of the Broncos came out firing right from the opening whistle as Bartolo blasted a pair of goals into the back of the Skyview net in the first minute and a half of play and before most of the fans had unpacked their folding chairs, Blackfoot led 2-0.
“It was a nice start,” Blackfoot head coach Liam Pope said. “Like I’ve noted before though, a two goal lead is notoriously dangerous.”
Dangerous or not, Blackfoot led early and Skyview was tasked with trying to overcome the early hole and they did just that, with a pair off first half goals, knotting the score at 2-2 heading into the break.
“It kind of reminded me of the Bonneville game when they scored two goals on us earlier in the season to tie the game we kind of got down on ourselves but we didn’t do that today,” Bartolo said.
Instead of showing any nerves or angst over losing their lead, Blackfoot instead stepped up their pressure on the offensive end in the second half and in the fifty-third minute Bartolo slipped in front of the defender and then punched the eventual game winner past an obviously upset goal keeper.
Immediately following the goal, coach Pope implored his defense to step it up on their end.
“I thought that we had hurt ourselves on their first two goals,” Coach Pope said. “Not to take anything away from Skyview because they had a pair of forwards who were very talented but on their first two goals we just missed our assignments. After we got the lead again I wanted to remind our defense to get back to basics and they did. They really worked their butts off and they defended like demons today.”
The third Bartolo goal held throughout the remainder of the second half despite a furious finish by a desperate Skyview team.
“To get three goals in a state semi-final, well that’s just story book type stuff but I hope that he left a couple of cannons in his cleats for tomorrow night,” Coach Pope said.
Blackfoot will soon find out if they have any more cannons in all of their cleats when they face off with Caldwell tonight at 7 P.M. at Middleton High School. A win, would bring Blackfoot their first ever state soccer title.