TWIN FALLS — Jerome didn’t even touch the ball before Twin Falls found the back of the net.
It took about 20 seconds. The Twin Falls High School girls soccer team possessed the ball to begin Wednesday’s game and weaved through Jerome’s defense. Sophomore Madison Bailey got the ball from about 18 yards away and fired.
1-0 Bruins, just like that.
“I knew she was ready. I knew she wanted to win,” Twin Falls senior senior Lexi Rierson said. “It kind of brought up our energy. It was a great start to our first district game.”
The blur of a goal did not foretell a blowout, but it did spark Twin Falls (13-2) in its 4-1 win over the Tigers (5-10) Wednesday at the Sunway Soccer Complex. The victory launched the Bruins, who had a first-round bye, into another Great Basin Conference championship game. They’re one win away from the 4A state tournament.
Bailey’s goal was quickly proceeded by another. About seven minutes into the game, Rierson gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead.
“We’ve got a lot of differing attacks,” Twin Falls coach Katie Kauffman said. “We don’t have one just exceptional player that teams can key on. We have a ton of players that play both offensive and defensive positions, and we have multiple players who can put the ball in the back of the net.”
After that second goal, the game looked destined to end up like the first meeting between Twin Falls and Jerome — a 10-0 Twin Falls win at Sunway.
Instead, it played out more like the second meeting — a 2-1 Bruins win at Jerome.
Twin Falls had chances the rest of the first half but couldn’t punch them past Jerome senior goalie Jimena Martinez. The Bruin defense held strong, but Tigers sophomore Makali Nance found a hole with about one minute to go in the first half. She scored to cut Jerome’s deficit to 2-1 at halftime.
“When it got back to that 2-1, it was like, ‘Ugh, here we go again,’” Kauffman said.
The Bruins didn’t take long to regain control.
In the 45th minute, Rierson struck again to increase the lead to 3-1. About two minutes later, senior Ellie Jackson scored to make it 4-1.
Jerome never threatened to score after that point.
“We all wanted to play better, faster,” Rierson said. “We needed to come out with a big win, and we did.”
Twin Falls is now 11-0 against conference competition this season. It can go a perfect 12-0 on Wednesday, when it hosts Wood River or Canyon Ridge in the district title game.
The Bruins have reached the district championship game in every season since 2009, when it moved down from 5A to 4A. A win on Wednesday would be its fourth straight.
“They can go a long ways,” Kauffman said of her players. “We have a lot of confidence in them.”
Jerome is now in the loser-out bracket, where it will host Burley on Monday.
“We win and lose as a team,” Jerome coach Robert Garcia said. “Just play our best; that’s all we can do.”