POCATELLO — Everyone loves a snowy December football game.
How about a snowy October soccer game?
The wintry conditions slowed, but didn’t stop, the Pocatello Indians on Wednesday, as they beat Canyon Ridge 1-0 in about an inch of snow at Hawthorne Park. The win advanced the second-seeded Indians (11-1-3) to the 4A District 4-5 tournament semifinals, where they’ll host No. 3 Preston on Saturday.
Freshman Lexi Bott scored the game’s only goal about 17 minutes into the second half, when she volleyed Alexis Hubbard’s cross into the bottom left corner of the net.
“I loved the effort of our girls in the snow,” Poky coach Eric Davis said. “They weren’t deterred by it at all and they went after it. They were slip-sliding all over, but they were still playing some pretty soccer.”
Indeed, players from both sides made unintentional snow angels throughout Wednesday’s match. Pocatello’s first major snowfall of the season left a blanket of snow on the field, slowing passes and dribbles and affecting players' footwork and stopping ability.
Poky still came out aggressively, dominating possession in the game’s opening minutes. Adi Spillett, Bott, Lexi Arroyo and Gabby Madrid all narrowly missed scoring chances as the Indians pelted Canyon Ridge with well-timed passes into the box.
“We got some really good passing off, that was our key,” Davis said. “We were able to pass it around and do really, really well with that.”
But Pocatello couldn’t break through and the game went into halftime tied 0-0.
After a quiet first half that yielded few scoring chances, No. 7 seed Canyon Ridge (5-9-2) was the aggressor early after the break. All four of the Riverhawks’ early-half shots were scooped up by Poky goalkeeper Seanee Still, but the visitors’ presence in the Indians’ third of the field threatened to end the scoreless tie.
“We were slipping and sliding and gave them a few more opportunities than we would have liked to see,” Davis said.
Pocatello eventually continued its relentless attack and broke the stalemate.
Hubbard lifted a cross from the left side of the box to Bott in front of the net, and Bott volleyed it past Riverhawks keeper Gisselle Garibay for the eventual winner.
The goal nearly opened a floodgate of scoring for the Indians, who almost doubled their lead multiple times before the game’s closing minutes.
Instead, it was Canyon Ridge that controlled the final moments of action and nearly scored four times, on two shots by Kimberly Castillo, a header off a corner kick and another shot off a cross that nearly found net.
One shot sailed over the crossbar and Still saved the others, giving Poky its first clean sheet since Sept. 16.
“Our defense held strong,” Davis said. “We had to substitute a little bit there, which threw us off just a tad bit, and they got some good balls coming through. ... Our girls were so nervous about slipping and sliding, they didn’t step quite as quick and gave (Canyon Ridge) a little more opportunity than they should’ve had.”
Pocatello hosts District 5 foe Preston on Saturday. The winner advances to the district championship game and secures a berth in the 4A state tournament.