Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Last gasp game goes Sun Valley's way

Cutthroats clip McCall in final minute

Express Staff Writer

The Community School's Travis Stone launches the game-winning shot against McCall. Photo by David N. Seelig

You can understand shaky Monday mornings, or even Tuesdays, but rotten starts on Saturdays seem downright cruel.

Community School soccer coach Richard Whitelaw had one of those mornings on Saturday, but by the time the afternoon rainclouds burst open and the thunderheads bellowed life seemed somewhat sunnier for the affable man.

Whitelaw's beloved Liverpool F.C. (for whom he has a tattoo on his leg) lost 3-0 to Everton, and his Cutthroat team (for whom he has a tattoo on his other leg) was in disarray with four starters seeing the bench for school infractions.

Whitelaw scouted the McCall-Wood River matchup earlier in the day and knew his team had a fight on its hands.

But his team demonstrated to him that it had plenty of fight in it.

Facing their first legitimate opponent since Twin Falls in August, the Cutthroats held McCall to a 1-0 halftime advantage, getting some gutsy play out of sophomore sweeper Alex Conn and freshmen defenders Jackson Bates and Bergen Palmer. The latter two had the daunting task of guarding Viking strikers Chase Millemann and Todd Fereday, who scored two goals against Wood River and teamed up on McCall's opening goal -- a rebound and putback - against the 'Throats. Playing a flat four on defense, McCall maintained a man advantage on all Sun Valley's breaks allowing only four shots on net. Alden Remington had two quality strikes, but keeper Garret Spenst (6 saves) grabbed both.

McCall's Millemann narrowly missed the goal at the start of the second half, but the tables turned faster than the Pioneer Saloon on a Friday night.

Striker Travis Stone (11 goals), who is well on his way to shattering his mark of 14 goals last season, chest-trapped the ball, cut right, turning his defender, and then cut left against the grain, burying the equalizer at the four-minute mark.

Stone's play displayed terrific ball control and poise of possession in the same instant.

Stone came close minutes later, punching in a pass from Tanner Flanigan, but Spenst got a hand on it, turning a connection into a deflection.

Some nice combination play by the Cutthroat midfielders, Josh Sonneland, Connor Brown and Remington with Flanigan and Stone on the wings, kept the pressure on, but the deadlock stood until Ross Campbell headed in a high corner kick floated by Brown for a 2-1 lead.

But quality teams like McCall play for a full eighty minutes, and Mike Maini's squad answered. Fereday scooped up a loose ball in the box, scoring to make it 2-2 and almost had the go-ahead goal when his ensuing shot went just wide.

With 20 seconds on the clock and it looking like a tie game, Remington lofted a pass over a streaking Stone's shoulder and the junior drove it home in one stroke with the simplicity and conviction of a carpenter hammering a nail.

Game over, 3-2.

"It just goes to show that you have to play to the final whistle," Whitelaw remarked. "I thought it was our best half of the season."

Freshman goalie Nick Crosby came up with seven saves on eight shots in the second half and the defense surrendered only one corner kick the entire game.

For his efforts, Stone was named Man of the Match, and Whitelaw remarked, "Travis is our most dangerous player out there, but we are not a one-man team. Caleb (Sonneland) and Alden (Remington) both ran their socks off."

Now 4-1, The Community School is 4-0 in games in which Stone scores, but they will need another all-around performance this coming week in games against Buhl (Tuesday), Minico and Bliss.

Last season Bliss bested the Cutthroats twice by scores of 3-2, before Sun Valley returned the favor, beating the Bears 3-2 (what else) in the district finals.

Friday's game time is 4:30 p.m. at Browning Field in Elkhorn.

"It's going to be the game of the week," Whitelaw said. "They're just as good as last year and they're just building on that."

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