By MARLOWE HEREFORD
It didn’t take overtime, but the Hillcrest High School girls soccer team retained its magic from an impressive week in the 5A District 5-6 tournament to claim the ultimate prize Thursday.
Hillcrest senior forward Katry Redd scored her third game-winning goal in five days to lift the Knights to a 2-1 win over Skyline under the lights at the Idaho Falls Soccer Complex and give Hillcrest its first district title since 2011, its last year in the 4A classification.
The same two teams met in last year’s district championship, but graduated a combined 17 seniors. One of two returning varsity players from last year’s Hillcrest team, Redd scored golden goals in a double-overtime loser-out game win against Idaho Falls on Saturday and in an overtime win at Madison on Tuesday.
Her latest heroics came Thursday in the last of several one on ones with Skyline keeper Abby Lehto. The showdown resulted in a 74th minute goal for Redd, who was immediately lost in a swarm of red-and-black jerseys.
Redd quickly credited her teammates minutes after having her turn with the trophy in the postgame celebration.
“I’m just proud of my team, the team effort,” Redd said. “I’m proud of how we played.”
The quick-footed, soft-spoken senior was just as quick to rank where her week of game winners fit all-time in her career.
“Number one,” she said with a smile. “It’s awesome. It’s unbelievable. It’s kind of a dream week.”
Skyline entered the title game as the top-seeded team and defending district champion, 14-0-0 overall with no losses to a 5A District 5-6 opponent since 2013. Hillcrest entered as the third-seeded team riding two overtime victories three days apart.
The keepers stayed busy early Thursday as no shots found the back of net until the 39th minute. Hillcrest junior wing Megan Seward hit a shot off the crossbar that landed in the goal mouth, where she ran to send it home to put the Knights up 1-0.
The teams quickened the pace after halftime, drawing cheers from spectators with clutch saves by the keepers and shots that went just wide.
Skyline pursued multiple opportunities for an equalizer once the scoreboard clock reached 60 minutes. After four previous Grizz tries in the box fell short, a corner kick deflected back just inside midfield in the 68th minute. Sophomore Kristin Morrison was there to volley a laser into the net over the raised hands of Hillcrest keeper Taeler Torres, tying the game and prompting pandemonium from the Grizzlies.
Intensity reigned in the next six minutes as a Skyline shot hit the crossbar, a Grizz corner kick was cleared and Lehto beat Redd one versus one. Less than a minute after Lehto made that save, however, Redd found the game-winner.
Hillcrest coach Dave Coffman said overtime was on his mind in the final 10 minutes, adding he has lost six pounds during districts.
“My first thought was ‘Oh God, not again,’ ” Coffman said with a laugh. “That was every bit of a Hillcrest-Skyline game. These girls know each other. This is the rivalry in this town.”
Skyline coach Kip Archibald, who gave Coffman two hugs after the game, had similar observations.
“Dave brought his team to play,” Archibald said. “My hat’s off to them. What a game.”
The Grizzlies (14-1-0) host Highland, the team they played Tuesday, in a winner-to-state, loser-out game Saturday.
The Knights (13-4-1) advance to play District 3’s fourth-seeded team in the first round of the 5A state tournament Thursday at Meridian High School. Coffman said he was proud of the journey his team has taken.
“These guys, they started the year as a group of scrappy girls who like to play soccer,” Coffman said. “They’ve grown into a mature, incredible team of young women.”