Coach Kelly Feldman's Community School girls' soccer team is just about where it wants to be as the seven-team High Desert Soccer Conference tournament gets ready to roll out its excitement for 2008.
Playing their best soccer of the season, the Cutthroats are a little hungry, which is probably a good place to be. That is, a good place to be with a maximum seven games left to show their skills and overall stuff.
The Cutthroats (9-5-1, 9-1-1 league) are ranked #3 in the Idahosports.com poll of 3A schools behind top-ranked Orofino (13-1) and #2-ranked High Desert conference leader Buhl (12-1-0, 10-1-0).
A high-scoring side, Orofino started its season with a 2-1 victory over The Community School at McCall and has lost only to 4A Moscow 5-0. Buhl, having split with the Cutthroats, needs only a win over Bliss today, Wednesday to clinch the High Desert top seed.
In that case, the Cutthroats by winning at Declo today would be the #2-seeded team and would host the #7-seeded side, either Gooding or Declo, in the first tournament round Saturday, Oct. 11 at 3 p.m. at Elkhorn's Sagewillow Farms.
The championship game is set for Thursday, Oct. 16.
The top two High Desert teams gain automatic State 3A tournament berths for the eight-team Oct. 23-25 meet in Caldwell, with the third-place team making a play-in game.
Really, Feldman and assistant Carolina Stevens are banking on winning their fifth consecutive district tournament title, and earning the school's eighth straight state tournament berth, to get a much better first-round state match-up.
That's because the High Desert champ debuts at state against a much softer runner-up team from the Boise area/northern Idaho, while the High Desert runner-up meets the 6th District champ, a much tougher foe that will probably be Teton of Driggs in the all-important first game.
And Teton (12-2-1) is the defending State 3A champ, having won its first-ever Idaho title last October with a 21-1 record and an amazing shootout victory over previously unbeaten Fruitland in the final game.
So the stakes are high in the upcoming tournament.
Buhl, the second High Desert seed last year, is hopeful of erasing memories of its two losses to upstart Filer that sent the Wildcats to state instead of the Tribe. And the Cutthroats (7-17 in their state appearances) know how vital that first-round match-up can be.
The only game that kept the Cutthroats out of a flat-out tie with Buhl for the league lead was their 1-1 tie at Wendell Sept. 3. Feldman's squad avenged that tie with a 3-0 home win over Wendell Friday.
Emma Wilander, Freya Dickey and Maddie duPont scored for the Cutthroats, who posted their seventh league shutout of the season and made it seven wins in their last eight starts by a big 37-5 margin.
Teagen Palmer (18 goals) and Wilander (6) lead the Cutthroats, who have five players with five or more goals.
A win in Saturday's first-round game would let the Cutthroats host a semi-final contest Tuesday, Oct. 14 at 4:30 p.m., with the title match and third-place playoff on Oct. 16.