The Bishop Kelly boys soccer team’s perfect run through the 4A Southern Idaho Conference ended Tuesday. But the Knights salvaged a tie with a late goal, keeping them undefeated in conference play and comfortably atop the league standings heading into the final two weeks.
Bishop Kelly junior Colton Crawford combined with Shawn Cabus for a give-and-go in the 75th minute, and Crawford finally finished one of the Knights’ myriad of scoring opportunities to earn a 1-1 draw with Caldwell.
The win keeps Bishop Kelly (7-2-1 overall) firmly in first place in the 4A SIC at 7-0-1 and 22 points with a game in hand. Caldwell remains tied for second with Columbia at 6-2-1 and 19 points.
“Just being able to sit up front and control our destiny is where we wanted to be,” Bishop Kelly coach Jared Vreeland said. “We know we’ll probably see them again. That’s the anticipation.”
Caldwell (7-3-1 overall) nearly stole the road win without a single shot on goal. The Cougars took a surprise lead in the 49th minute when Jaden Pineda earned a penalty kick on a run down the right wing.
Caldwell senior Nick Caceres calmly converted the spot kick. But he quickly earned two yellow cards, sending him off the field with a soft red card and forcing the Cougars to play the final 13 minutes with just 10 players.
That opened up the game for wild swings on both ends. Caldwell’s Brian Ramirez and Bishop Kelly’s Cabus both hit the goal post in the final 5 minutes. But only Crawford could convert in the frenetic finish, tapping in his 13th goal of the season.
“He had the same success in the first half,” Vreeland said. “He got a little bit more patient with his runs, a little bit calmer on the ball (in the second half). But he unlocks defenses, and keeping up with him for 80 minutes is a challenge in itself.”
Tuesday marked the first full game for Caldwell midfielder Danny Torres, one of the expected top players in the conference. He tore his ACL last year, and some minor setbacks earlier this year led the Cougars to take a slow approach.
The game also showcased Caldwell goalkeeper Greysen Porter, who made nine saves — including three, full-extension, diving stops in the final 30 minutes to keep the Cougars in the game.
“He’s kind of been struggling a little bit, giving up some soft goals,” Yeakley said. “We’ve had a lot of come-to-Jesus moments and some heavy-handed talks about what he needs to do.
“He’s been suffering. His only problem is confidence. … The best thing that came out of today is probably that he had a strong game.”
Yeakley said he expects to see Bishop Kelly again, either in the district championship or at the state tournament.
“I really believe one of us is probably going to be in the state title game at the end of the year,” Yeakley said. “If it’s not us, it’s probably going to be them. And it could be both of us.”