Peaking. Webster’s Dictionary wouldn’t necessarily define peaking as how the Sandpoint girls soccer team is playing at the moment, but it should.
The Bulldogs played themselves into the 4A State championship game for a second straight year after posting a second shutout in two days Friday.
Sandpoint blanked Middleton 3-0 at Lake City, and the Bulldogs will meet Bishop Kelly (15-3) for the second consecutive year in the final this afternoon. The match is at Coeur d’Alene, beginning at 2.
“They took it up a level and I’m pleasantly surprised,” Sandpoint coach Conor Baranski said. “We watched Middleton yesterday and they’re a great team. They have a lot of weapons. But our team played better. My concern was that we wouldn’t be able to match up with them, but obviously that was completely not the case.”
The Bulldogs were on the attack from the opening moments again Friday, and Middleton (13-7) didn’t stand a chance.
Nan Kiebert hooked in a shot from 18 yards in the third minute.
With 8 minutes left in the first half, Madi Shoening headed in a spectacular pass off a flip-kick throw in from Kiebert to extend the lead to 2-0.
Kiebert scored a second goal from 20 yards to put Sandpoint ahead 3-0 with 17 minutes remaining.
Sandpoint had nonstop pressure on Middleton’s goal. The Bulldogs had plenty of other opportunities.
“We probably should have scored more,” Schoening said.
Going back to last year, it was Sandpoint’s fifth consecutive shutout at state.
“We were dangerous every time we went forward, which has not always been the case this year,” Baranski said.
Baranski has been quick to point out what has pressed the Bulldogs to finally be playing as well as they are this week. He said a tough league schedule coupled with challenging matches against Greater Spokane League schools is the difference.
“It’s been great preparation,” he said. “I’ve been seeing things from some of my players I haven’t seen all season. I’ll be honest, at the beginning of the season I wouldn’t have dared to hope for this.”
Baranski stayed to scout Bishop Kelly in the other semifinal.
“They should have all the confidence in the world that they can take on anybody,” he said about his team.
Schoening expects her team to play well today.
“We had a rough start at the beginning but we’ve just built on each other and we have such great team camaraderie,” she said. “We’re loving every second of it. I’ve been very pleased with our composure. We have great possession on the field. We have great composure in front of the goal and capitalize on opportunities.”
Boise broke out from a 1-1 tie at intermission to top the Lake City Timberwolves 4-2 in a hard-fought semifinal match at Idaho Falls. The Timberwolves (15-3-1) will play for third place today against Rocky Mountain. LC repeatedly hit the crossbar on scoring attempts.
• Meg Lowery scored twice and Bekah Brendis and Kylie Hanson added goals as Coeur d’Alene kept its season alive with a 4-2 win over Skyline in Idaho Falls. The Vikings will play Eagle this morning in the consolation finals.
Brooklyn Cunningham had a goal and an assist to guide Coeur d’Alene Charter past Shelley 2-0 in Twin Falls. The Panthers advance to play Timberlake in the title match today at 2 p.m. Timberlake advanced with a 2-1 semifinal win over McCall/Donnelly.
Lake City bounced back from a heartbreaking opening-round loss to knock off Madison 3-1 in Idaho Falls. LC (16-1) will take on Idaho Falls today for fourth place. Alec Maldanado was fouled inside the box and Ryan Swallow hit the ensuing penalty kick to put LC ahead 1-0 at the 15-minute mark.
Dru Bodgen’s goal lifted Moscow past Preston 1-0 in an elimination match in Post Falls. The Bears will play Bishop Kelly in the consolation championship this morning at 10 at Post Falls.
Bonners Ferry beat American Falls 7-6 in a shootout and stayed alive with a 2-1 win in Twin Falls. Trailing 1-0 late in the second half, the Badgers’ Trevor Pew scored the equalizer in the 80th minute to send the game into overtime and an eventual shootout. Bonners Ferry (11-8) will play Community School in the consolation finals this morning in Twin Falls.
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