It was a celebration of sweet soccer, seniors and scoring Wednesday when the Community School girls' soccer team routed Buhl 7-0 in the High Desert Soccer Conference championship game at Elkhorn.
Seven players scored goals as the Cutthroats romped to their second straight HDSC title and eighth in coach Kelly Feldman's nine years. One player, senior Bria Gillespie, scored her first-ever goal to open the scoring at 12 minutes.
Other scorers were Hannah Dies, Ellie Swanson, Jordan Fitzgerald, Gabi Perenchio, Whitney Engelmann and Kelly Hennessy (penalty kick). The Cutthroats out-shot Buhl 31-2, 4-0 corners. Buhl junior keeper Chelsea Cress made 24 saves.
Defender Kelly Hennessy, one of seven Sun Valley seniors playing their final home game, said, "The whole team played really well. We knew Buhl was an aggressive team, so we definitely stepped up with our crosses and going to the ball."
The win highlighted a season of TCS domination, since the multi-talented Cutthroats went 14-0-0 against league foes and outscored them 102-9. They posted 10 shutouts in 17 games and have won seven straight.
Sophomore striker Swanson (27 goals, 39 career) continued her assault on the Cutthroat record book, but Feldman emphasized how important the entire team of seven seniors, two juniors, four sophomores and nine freshman has become.
"Ellie gets all the attention, but the whole team makes it possible," said Feldman. "They work well together and they like each other. I love it when I hear another team complaining about how they can't man-up on us, because we're always switching it up. The movement is very important for us."
The Cutthroats earned the school's 10th straight state tournament berth. Third-seeded Buhl (11-6-0) moved on to meet second-seeded Filer (11-7-1) in Friday's second-place game at Filer that will determine the league's second representative to the Oct. 21-23 State 3A tournament in Twin Falls.
If the Cutthroat offense was breathtaking Wednesday, the defense of Kelly Hennessy, Emma Wilander, Hailey Rheinschild and Chelsea Cloud was a steel curtain. Buhl couldn't manage a shot in the first half.
When the Cutthroats started seriously pulling the trigger, they seemed to make everything—five goals in an 11-minute span of the first half that broke the game wide open.
Gillespie, starting the game on the left wing, collected a loose ball after the Tribe defense stopped Swanson in front of goalkeeper Cress. Gillespie made no mistake, slamming it high into the net for a 1-0 lead.
Swanson's pretty cross found freshman Dies (19 goals), who finished nicely for a 2-0 lead at 13 minutes. Dies didn't have to do much, since Swanson did most of the work—luring two Tribe defenders into the corner by the flag and then making a quick turn and dropping the cross onto Dies' foot.
At 16 minutes, a build-up from the back went from Hennessy to Gabi Perenchio and up ahead to Swanson on the left wing. Swanson drilled a shot that came back out at her, then she one-timed the return for a 3-0 cushion. She has scored in 12 of the 17 games this fall.
Swanson delivered her second assist on a ball that filtered through the Tribe defense and found Fitzgerald (14 goals), who pounded the open net for a 4-0 game at 18 minutes. Katie Feldman's pass went to Gabi Perenchio on the left. Perenchio teed it up and found the back of the net from 35 yards.
That long goal ended the five-goal Cutthroat barrage, but freshman Engelmann (9 goals) stuffed home a Fitzgerald cross at 33 minutes for a 6-0 advantage at half. Hennessy's penalty kick came eight minutes into the second half for the 7-0 final.
Senior midfielder Freya Dickey suffered an injury above her right ankle with about 10 minutes remaining.
Payette may be next foe
After the game, juniors Gabi Perenchio and Rheinschild gave gifts to the seniors, while coach Feldman watched the ceremony with pride and thought ahead to the next opponent for her special squad.
That opponent is likely to be defending State 3A champion Payette in the first round of the 2010 tournament Thursday, Oct. 21 at 2 p.m. at Sunway Sports Complex in Twin Falls.
To make that Oct. 21 match-up possible, Payette had to beat league foe McCall-Donnelly Thursday in the Third District 3A second-place game and then win a state play-in game Saturday, Oct. 16 at Lewiston High School against the northern Idaho runner-up team.
Feldman thought Payette would emerge with both of those wins and make state, setting up a rematch of last year's state tournament first-round game won by the Pirates 4-0 over the Cutthroats. Payette (13-4-2) went on to earn its second state title and first since 2005 with an overtime shootout win by 4-3 kicks over defending champion Fruitland (14-2-1).
"Payette is strong and fast and may have the only scorer in the state who has more goals than Ellie (senior Jordan Rodriguez)," Feldman said. "In the next week we'll have to increase our speed of play and work on our goalkeeping."
Hennessy added, "We know that the level of competition goes up when we come out of our district. Next week we'll prepare well so we'll be in the right mindset for state."
Payette, a 2-1 loser to Fruitland in Tuesday's Third District championship game, has 13 seniors including Rodriguez. The Cutthroats haven't enjoyed much success against Payette at state in recent years, losing three games by a combined 14-1 score. And the last time the Cutthroats won their first game at state was back in 2005.
But, Morgan Arritola's goal was the eventual game winner in the Community School's 3-2 victory over Payette at state in Buhl in 2003 that gave Feldman's squad third place. And that's the last time the Cutthroats defeated 2005 and 2009 state girls' champion Payette.