POCATELLO — Here come the champs! Here come the champs! Yes, the defending conference and state champion Blackfoot Broncos took another step towards a repeat of 2011 as they downed the second seeded Century Diamondbacks 2-0 at Century High School on Thursday afternoon to capture their second straight conference championship.
"It was an uncomfortable pressure on us entering the tournament as the top seed," Blackfoot head coach Liam Pope said. "When your the underdog your not expected to win and looking back this is the first time that the top seed has won the district tournament since I've been coaching here."
First half action was fast and furious as the top two teams in district 5-6 battled it out for the blue trophy. Both teams were near mirror images in style of play as the Broncos and the Diamondbacks put on a clinic of ball handling and passing skills.
"It was a pretty game to watch," Coach Pope said. "That was two teams that knew how to play soccer. For the most part both teams stuck the ball on the ground and did a good job of playing through the midfield."
Blackfoot had a scare early on as their top scoring threat, Andy Garcia picked up a yellow card early in the first half which tempered his normal play somewhat.
"Century kind of took it to us a little bit early in the game," Coach Pope said. "When Andy reentered after the yellow he was on strict orders to stay out of everything. You see it a lot when someone picks up a yellow they pick up a second with the adrenaline still pumping and such and we didn't want to take a chance on that."
Keeping Garcia on the field proved to be very important indeed as he set up the games first goal in the fifty-ninth minute of play when he drove the ball past the defender to the end line and then lofted a pretty pass to the front of the goal where his brother Jordan was waiting to head the ball past a stunned Century goal keeper for the 1-0 Blackfoot lead.
"Jordan and Andy have a lot of synergy, almost telepathy if you will," Coach Pope said. "You saw Andy not even looking to dribble the ball closer for his own shot once he got past the defender. He just lifted that ball up in front and he knew that Jordan would be there."
Blackfoot continued to the offensive attack and four minutes later Everardo Bartolo drew a foul near the end line and on the ensuing free kick the ball bounced around until it found the waiting head of Tanner Norton. In a crowd, Norton flicked his head and drove the ball past the diving goal keeper for his first goal of the season and the 2-0 Blackfoot lead.
"We went into half time feeling that we had played pretty well and even though we didn't have a lot of scoring chances we felt that we had generated some," Coach Pope said. "We told the boys at the half to just keep playing the way that they were playing and that we would be okay."
With the two goal lead and under twenty minutes to go till the final whistle the Broncos turned the game over to their stingy defense and their all conference goal keeper Oziel Oseguera.
"We just reminded the defense to play compact," Coach Pope said. "We noticed when Century played Preston that their top scorer lied to drift in and then drop off into some space so we made it a point to stay compact and make them go outside instead of inside."
The defensive strategy worked perfectly as the only serious scoring threat was easily handled by Oseguera on a header with about ten minutes remaining and as the whistle blew, Oseguera had pitched a clean sheet and the Broncos were once again district champions.
Blackfoot (13-1-1) will get a chance to defend their state championship when the state tournament begins next Tuesday in Idaho Falls against an opponent to be determined.