October 7, 2016. That’s the last time the Sugar-Salem’s girls’ soccer team lost a game in the regular season until Tuesday. Whether it was the weather or the large crowd or the fact that Sugar hadn’t been challenged in weeks, the Lady Diggers lost to Teton 3-2 in Driggs ending their 27-game-regular-season unbeaten streak.
“Any time you go to Teton’s field, it’s going to be tough to win,” said Sugar-Salem head coach Scott Terry. “No matter what past scores or things say, they’re always going to be a good team on their field. It’s tough to play them up there. You could tell they’re a lot more used to playing in the bad weather than we were and they came out with a lot more fire than we did. It showed at the end of the game.”
The game started with snow coming down on the players.
“It was pounding snow and we could barely hear each other on the field,” Terry said.
Teton’s Kate Bleffert put Teton up 1-0 20 minutes into the game when she made a shot from outside the box.
Ten minutes later, Sugar’s Abrea sent a ball up to Morgan Teichert who finished outside the box to tie the game at 1-1.
A few minutes later, Sugar put in a cross and a Teton player reached up and touched the ball with her hand giving the Lady Diggers a penalty kick. Sunny Bennion put in the penalty kick to give Sugar a 2-1 lead with six minutes left.
With a couple minutes left in the half, Bleffert scored on another Sugar break down putting the ball into the corner of the net to tie it 2-2 going into halftime.
“There were good and bad things that were happening,” Terry said of the first half. “It was good to see us fight back after being down 1-0 to pull forward 2-1 but then to immediately give back our lead is also frustrating. Especially when I feel like we’ve been pretty good defensively throughout the season and to have a couple defensive breakdowns. That’s frustrating but a good opportunity to for us to learn.”
In the second half, Sugar and Teton traded which team controlled possession on the other team’s half.
“The weather got at least a little bit better in the second half, but the field was still torn up at that point. It makes it difficult to play on.”
Bleffert dribbled two or three Sugar players then scored from the top of the 18” to score her third goal of the game 15 minutes into the second half and give Teton a 3-2 lead.
“I felt like we could have done better defensively of standing her up and not giving her as much space,” Terry said. “We probably could have saved it from a goalkeeper standpoint as well but it’s a great learning experience for us because we didn’t quite play with the energy that we needed to and Teton came out and played really hard and you could tell that they wanted it more than we did. It was just one of those days.”
Bleffert scored her three goals on four or five shots.
“She’s a player that we always know we have to watch,” Terry said. “For Teton, everything runs through her in the middle of the field. I think our central midfield players will admit they didn’t have the best game. We just gave her too much space. When give great players too much space they can make you pay for it. She definitely did that yesterday. Kudos to her.”
Teton once again had a good crowd show up despite the low temperatures and high levels of precipitation.
“They always have really good crowds out there,” Terry said. “They had a good section, they had lots of parents. We’re used to having a lot of support at our games but going to Teton they always have a really good crowd. And it does affect things. It fires them up and they play really hard.”
Terry is interested to see how his team bounces back from their first loss this season.
“I think as a coaching staff we’ll go back and look at the film and decide what things we need to change or what adjustments we need to make,” Terry said. “It’s kind of up to the girls as to how they’re going to react to that. We’ve just been so good in the regular season the last few years. I mean we’ve had one tie or so in there but we won all of our regular season games for the past two and a half years.”
Terry said his team can take the loss one of two ways.
“Losing a game in the regular season is definitely a wake up call for many of our players and for us coaches as well and gets us into a different kind of mindset where we have to figure out what kind of team we’re going to be and how we’re going to rebound when we have a difficult game like that,” Terry said. “It’s up to the girls to determine if it’ll be a springboard or if it’ll be a stumbling block to keep us from the lofty goals and expectations that we have for ourselves.”
Sugar plays North Fremont on Thursday and Marsh Valley on Saturday at home after playing six straight games on the road.
“We finally finished our away stand,” Terry said. “We played like eight straight games away from home. So it’ll be really nice to be back on our home field and to get back to playing the way we want to play. North will, obviously, want to come out and play hard and have a better showing than they did last time against us. Then Marsh is always a really good test. They always win their district over there. It’ll be a really indication of how we’re doing compared to other great teams in the state.”