MIDDLETON — Meagan Lyons had her hands crossed over the 4A District III Championship plaque like she hadn’t seen it before.
This is already the Bishop Kelly girls soccer coach’s third time holding the trophy.
She claimed it was to help keep herself warm on a chilly 52-degree night. But she did admit later on that the feeling never gets old.
The Knights edged Kuna 1-0 for their unprecedented 11th straight district championship Thursday evening at Middleton High School.
“That’s insane. That’s so many wins,” Lyons said. “It shows the degree, the high caliber of this program, long term.”
Bishop Kelly (18-0-1) will take on either Idaho Falls or Bonneville at 2 p.m. Oct. 24 in the opening round of the 4A state tournament at Brothers Park in Caldwell. Kuna (16-2-1) will play Twin Falls at 11 a.m. the same day.
The Knights’ streak, which began with a 4-1 win over Mountain Home on Oct. 7, 2009, was far from the only one they kept intact.
The win ran Bishop Kelly’s unbeaten streak against 4A Southern Idaho Conference opponents to 164 games. The last time the Knights lost to a team from their own league was on Oct. 16, 2008 via a 1-0 defeat to Skyview in the district title game.
The Knights also extended their overall unbeaten streak to 83 games. Bishop Kelly hasn’t been beaten since a 4-2 loss to Timberline on Aug. 20, 2016. It’s the same year the Knights started their current run of three state titles in a row.
“It’s just the team dynamic,” junior forward Alexis Pond said. “We all come together and always pull through no matter who’s on the team. The freshmen step up every year and it’s awesome. We build every year.”
But those incredible streaks were up in the air until the 67th minute of the district final. That’s when Pond sprung into action.
She chipped the ball over to the far side of the field to Sara Sabala. The junior forward then made a run to the goal. But she tripped and fell to the ground while letting her shot go. So the ball deflected off of Kuna keeper Ariel Kotte. However, Pond had the awareness to trail Sabala on the play and followed through with the putback.
It was the only goal the Knights would need.
“It just felt awesome just to be the one that made the difference in the game,” Pond said. “... I’m going to remember this for the rest of my life.”
Bishop Kelly’s defense took care of the rest.
Keeper Natalie Phillips tipped a Lexy Haws free kick over the net in the 83rd minute. A pair of Knights’ defenders then quickly converged on Natasha Davis and forced her shot to sail high with three minutes remaining.
Those were the only opportunities Kuna got for the rest of the game, as Bishop Kelly recorded its 17th straight shut out. Kuna came in with the SIC’s top two goal scorers in Haws (29) and Jayla Ponce (28). It also had the league’s highest scoring offense at five goals per game.
But the conference’s best defense won in the end.
The Knights have only allowed one goal the entire season and that came on a set piece in the season-opener against Columbia back on Aug. 24.
“They’re a really good group,” Lyons said. “We have some defenders who are now playing center (midfielder) and it’s because we just have depth in the defense. And the crazy thing is there’s only one senior in that (group), which is great.”
It was the third meeting this season between the teams. They first met in the third game on Aug. 29. Kuna stunned Bishop Kelly by ending its 66-game overall and 57-game 4A SIC winning streaks in a 0-0 draw. It was also the first team in three years to keep the Knights off of the scoreboard.
Bishop Kelly then got payback nearly a month later with a 2-0 win on Sept. 24 before Thursday’s trilogy. And the two could play for a fourth time at state being on the opposite sides of the bracket.
The Knights will look to become the first team in the IHSAA era to four-peat. Bishop Kelly already has the most state titles of any program in the state since 2000 at nine.
“We’re ready to go. We are pumped,” junior defender Ali Chatterton said. “We’re all going in with the mindset of just don’t worry about the streak or anything, just work hard together, play how we play, play where we’re taught and go kick some (butt).”