Friday, August 26, 2005

Cutthroat girls ready to hit the pitch

Soccer season debuts in McCall Saturday

Express Staff Writer

Devyn Parnes, co-captain of the 2005 Cutthroats with Caitlin Enright, directs the ball up the field during her team's 3-0 home win over Wendell last Oct. 6 on the Sagewillow Farms pitch. Photo by David N. Seelig

Continuity counts for The Community School girls' soccer team as the program enters its 11th varsity year at the Sun Valley independent school. And it has turned into six consecutive winning soccer seasons.

Fourth-year head coach Kelly Feldman (26-15-4) and assistant coach Carolina Stevens have welcomed the school's best-ever turnout of 30 players for the 2005 prep season—and 19 of those are returning from last year's squad.

There are five seniors, 10 juniors, seven sophomores and eight freshmen on the current team. The Cutthroats graduated only three seniors but they were good ones—MVP Cassidy Doucette, Gussi Ochi and Most Inspirational Lexie Praggastis.

"It's important," said Feldman about the return rate. "Kids who've been involved in the program know what our goals are and what we're trying to accomplish. They're all working hard. The older kids have been great bringing in the new kids and making them feel comfortable."

Playing tougher competition is also important for a Cutthroat program that is getting into a nice groove qualifying for the state tournament in October. It's been four consecutive state trips for The Community School (67-51-13 all-time, 5-11 at state).

That's one reason that season-opening games at McCall Saturday, Aug. 27 are a great way to kick off the season. The Cutthroats play last year's State 3A consolation champion McCall-Donnelly at 11 a.m. Saturday then turn around and meet 4A Vallivue of Caldwell at 3 p.m. Saturday in McCall.

"It will be interesting to see how we do," Feldman said, adding that the main purpose of the trip will be to work out the early-season kinks.

Finding a way to compensate for the loss of Cassidy Doucette's 24 goals (45 career) will be a Cutthroat challenge this fall. Doucette graduated with the school's single-season scoring record and tallied 24 of the team's 45 goals.

"Offensively we're not necessarily trying to fill Cassidy's shoes—her loss is a big one—but we are trying to get more goal scorers and more of a well-rounded attack. Fortunately we have a good number of midfielders and forwards," said Feldman.

Juniors Sara Berman (8 goals), Ross Mills (4 goals) and Grayson Palmer along with senior Cristina Walsworth can put the ball in the net. Mills has played attacking midfielder in the past.

Senior Corinna Pidgeon, last year's Coaches' Award winner, and junior Lexie duPont are other Cutthroat forwards. And sophomores Cody Curran and Jessie Curran are a matched pair of aggressive midfielders. "Cody and Jessie can play just about anywhere," said Feldman.

Other midfielders in Feldman's 3-5-2 system are juniors Amanda Alexander, Krista Detwiler and Rian Ervin. "It's great to have such a big junior class. And midfield is one of our most competitive positions," Feldman said.

Team captains Devyn Parnes and Caitlin Enright, both seniors, will anchor the defense. Another senior on defense is McKenna Peterson. They're joined by juniors Katie Rothgeb, Gabby Sisson and Alex Dallago. Other sophomores on the team are Emily Eshman, Hannah Hennessey and Chloe Lynn.

Depth at the goalkeeper position is provided by sophomores Jean Montgomery—Most Improved in 2004—along with Katherine Farmer and freshman Hannah Carr.

"Hannah has played a lot for Sawtooth United. Katherine played varsity goalkeeper in California. And Jean has come a long way for us," said Feldman.

Offering hope for the future are freshmen Elizabeth Beesley, Jazz Campbell, Maddie duPont, Keller Gibson, Mattie Griswold, Annie Shafran and Marin Shepardson.

Last fall the Cutthroats (9-5, 20-9-2 over two seasons) were unbeaten on their home field and in league play and won the Fourth District 3A title. Feldman would like to return to the state tournament and perform better than in 2004.

"We hope to be more competitive than last year. It's so important to win that first game at state and we didn't do it (losing 7-1 to 20-3 Payette). If we could make it to the state championship it would be a good experience for us, especially with our huge junior class," said Feldman.

Regarding the team's league opponents, Feldman said, "Declo is always real hard for us—they play an offsides trap that gives us problems—and Wendell has improved steadily. Buhl has been rebuilding. It's tough to say. I'd have to say Declo will be one of our toughest games."

The Cutthroats defeated Declo 4-0 in last year's league championship game, the same score American Falls used to beat Declo in a state play-in game. American Falls (18-2-1) went on to capture its second straight State 3A title 2-1 OT over Payette.

And American Falls visits Sun Valley Saturday, Sept. 17 in a possible state tourney preview.

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