A terrible start.
A satisfying finish.
Those two opposites ultimately turned into a trophy for The Community School boys' soccer team during last weekend's State 3A tourney at Capital Soccer Complex, Meridian.
Coach Richard Whitelaw's Cutthroats (17-3-1) bounced back with determination from Thursday's disappointing 4-3 loss to McCall-Donnelly and won the 3A consolation championship with hard-fought wins over Weiser 3-1 Friday and Bonners Ferry 3-2 Saturday.
Three shocking McCall-Donnelly goals in the first 10 minutes Thursday virtually put the opener—and a chance for the state championship—out of reach for the Cutthroats.
Led by the scoring of junior Travis Stone and the leadership of senior midfielder Alden Remington, the Cutthroats regrouped with great desire.
For the rest of the tournament the Cutthroats showed the kind of artillery that put 113 goals on the board in 21 games.
They scored three in the second half against McCall, three against Weiser and three against Bonners Ferry. They allowed only four more goals after McCall's early surge.
"We started off slow in the first 10 minutes against McCall and knew we had to step up," said Remington after Saturday's win over Bonners Ferry. "From then on, for the next 210 minutes, every single minute we played as hard as we could. We deserve this trophy.
"It feels great to be a senior going out with a trophy and going out with a win."
And leading scorer Stone (38 goals) worked hard for every goal he scored at state. Stone set a school state tournament scoring record with seven goals—eclipsing five by John Hayes (2003), Jon Chitwood (1992) and Reggie Crist (1986).
Stone was also the second-leading scorer counting players from all 48 boys' and girls' teams in the three-day tournament, trailing only Eli Gough (8 goals) of state runner-up Bliss (16-1-1) and Brandy Hickcox (8 goals) of third-place 5A Capital.
Whitelaw said, "Travis is some player! Seven goals in three games—good for him! We had the gumption to come back and win two games, good especially for the boys coming back, because they know what to do now at the state tournament."
Actually, third-place McCall-Donnelly (12-7-3) led 4-0 after 52 minutes of Thursday's apparent mismatch before the Cutthroats started clawing back.
Remington's direct kick was tipped home by senior Ryon Campbell at 58 minutes. Tanner Flanigan centered the ball nicely to Stone, who controlled it in the box and fired it home at 67 minutes. Stone's penalty kick at 72 minutes was all net for the suddenly tight 4-3 final.
Senior goalkeeper Regan O'Reilly made some excellent saves in Friday's loser-out game against Weiser (12-7-2). And Connor Brown provided him with an early 1-0 lead at 10 minutes. Weiser equalized 1-1 at 30 minutes, but a couple of fine individual efforts by Stone produced two second-half goals.
Defender Bergen Palmer alertly cleared a Weiser threat from the box late in the second half. That kind of defense, combined with O'Reilly's exemplary game in the net, kept the Wolverines off the board.
Remington said, "Regan really stepped up. He was amazing and came up big."
In Saturday's consolation final, The Community School went up against Bonners Ferry (10-7-3), a dangerous and quick squad that had scored seven goals in a 7-4 win over Aberdeen Friday. Last year Bonners Ferry ousted the Cutthroats 3-0 in a State 3A loser-out game.
As it turned out, however, the game was more like the memorable 4-3 Cutthroat overtime Halloween win over Bonners Ferry at Buhl in 2003 that put Whitelaw's squad into the State 3A championship game.
The Cutthroats out-shot the Pilots 25-16 for the game—14-6 in the second half. They started quickly when a build-up from Max Harris to Flanigan ended up with Stone in the box alone, and that was certain stuff at state. One minute in, it was 1-0.
You can't underestimate what the Cutthroat defense did against the high-scoring Pilots. Campbell, freshman Bergen Palmer, soph Alex Conn and freshman Jackson Bates answered the bell nearly every time against the Pilot attack.
"I think Jackson was our most consistent defender," said Remington. "The guys on defense will be great next year."
The score was tied 1-1 at half, but Stone converted a pretty header on a Flanigan cross four minutes after half. The Pilots equalized 2-2 on a penalty kick at 57 minutes. Bates stopped a Miguel Mendez attack at 70 minutes and the Pilots banged one off the crossbar one minute later.
Stone stepped up big time with a great individual effort at 72 minutes—collecting a through ball with his body, dropping the ball to his feet, drawing out the goalie and scoring the eventual winner.
A diving stop by keeper O'Reilly (9 saves) and another timely kick-out by defender Palmer preserved the 3-2 win. After which Whitelaw issued one of his ultimate compliments: "It was a good game."
Teton of Driggs (12-3-6), an overlooked squad that had been seeded a lowly fourth in the Sixth District before its tournament, became the first Idaho Falls-area school since 2003 to win a state championship with a 2-1 overtime win over Bliss.
Final Community School boys stats: 17-3-1 overall record (11-1-1 home, 6-2 away, 9-0-1 league); second place Fourth District 3A tournament and consolation champion with a 2-1 record at state soccer. Offense: 113 goals (5.4). Defense: 23 goals (1.1), 7 shutouts.
Individual scoring: Travis Stone 38 goals (score in 18 of 21 games, 6 hat tricks), Caleb Sonneland 16, Tanner Flanigan 13, Alden Remington 10, Ryon Campbell 10, Connor Brown 6, Mac Whittington 6, Eddy Albarran 4, Max Harris 3, Jackson Bates 2, Alex Conn 1, Bergen Palmer 1, Lucas Vorsteveld 1, Si Park 1, own goal. Three-year scoring: Stone 59 goals, Sonneland 20, Remington 18.