With 14 players returning from last year's State 3A fourth-place team, 2006 could be the year The Community School girls' soccer team breaks through and muscles its way into the state championship game.
Fifth-year head coach Kelly Feldman (35-23-4) has greeted a turnout of 29 players and she is totally optimistic about the season. "We've got a lot of talent and we're really looking forward to a good year. The girls are so much fun."
The Community School (9-8 for its seventh consecutive winning season) ran the table unbeaten in its Fourth District 3A league for a second straight year and made it to the state tourney for a fifth straight year.
This is the 12th varsity year for the Cutthroats and the program has been quite successful with a 76-59-13 record including 6-13 at state. Best state finish? Third in the State 3A tourney at Buhl in 2003 with wins over North Fremont and Payette.
Only a good run at the state tournament has kept the Cutthroats out of the top echelon of 3A teams that includes defending champion Payette (19-0-2), 2003-04 state titlist American Falls, 2005 third-place Teton of Driggs and McCall-Donnelly.
There's no reason the Cutthroats can't make that run this fall, especially since many of the players gained a world of confidence in July during their two-week European trip for soccer games in Sweden's Gothia Cup and Denmark's Dana Cup.
Feldman said, "The core of our team is intact. The bulk of my players in numbers and talent are seniors and juniors—and many have been to state three years in a row. A lot of our competition has graduated, which helps us. But we are still looking at some freshmen in key positions particularly on defense."
Defense is where the Cutthroats graduated important players like Caitlin Enright and Devyn Parnes. Feldman said, "Defense is going to a challenge." But she likes the fact that goalkeeping is a strong, experienced area with juniors Kathryn Farmer and Jean Montgomery returning.
The offense might score a lot.
Last year, for instance, the Cutthroats scored 51 goals in 16 games. Players who scored 39 of those goals (76%) are returning led by senior forward Sara Berman (a team-high 8 goals, 16 goals 2 years), junior forward Hannah Hennessy (7 goals) and junior midfielder Cody Curran (6).
Berman is an established and reliable offensive player. Hennessy "can turn on a dime and hit it," said Feldman. "We need to get the ball to her." Cody Curran and her junior sister Jessie Curran are just two members of what Feldman calls an unusually versatile roster of players.
Two other aggressive attackers are junior Chloe Lynn (3 goals), an outside midfielder who strikes the ball consistently well, and sophomore Jazz Campbell (3 goals). "She can run all day," said Feldman about Campbell, a big factor in last year's state tournament despite her youth.
Campbell supplies speed, which isn't a Cutthroat strong suit, the coach said. "We're hoping to work better as a team, move the ball well and get everyone involved in the attack," said Feldman, architect of the normal 3-5-2 Cutthroat scheme.
The rest of the seven seniors are Mandy Alexander (MF), Krista Detwiler (MF), Rian Ervin (MF), Grayson Palmer (MF/wing), Katie Rothgeb (D) and Lexie duPont (F).
Rothgeb is expected to assume a big role on defense along with one of the team's leaders, junior Emily Eshman, and possibly freshman Erica Eshman, according to Feldman, who is assisted again by Carolina Stevens.
Other sophomores are Keller Gibson, Maddie duPont and Marin Shepardson. Other freshmen are Nellie Brown (F/MF), Kayla Cloud (MF/D), Maddie Kate Curry (GK), Kerry Lee Nelson (MF), Delaney Willey (MF), Madison Murach (F) and Anita Vorsteveld (F).