Playing some of their best soccer of the season, three Blaine County prep soccer teams made marvelous memories last weekend during the State 4A and 3A tournaments in Post Falls and Twin Falls.
The Wood River High School boys’ varsity soccer team (11-7-1) won its final two games at Post Falls and claimed the State 4A consolation trophy—first boys’ state trophy for Hailey since 2003 and the first-ever in 4A. The Wolverines achieved another 10-win soccer season.
In Twin Falls, The Community School girls’ soccer team (17-3-0) equaled the school’s best-ever girls’ soccer season record and captured its second straight State 3A consolation championship with a spine-tingling shootout win over 2008 champ Fruitland Saturday.
They were tantalizingly close to a berth in the State 4A championship game Friday at Post Falls. But the Wood River High girls (14-4-1) fought through 100 minutes of scoreless soccer and then dropped a 3-2 penalty kick shootout to defending champion Sandpoint in the state semi-final. Many observers called it the best soccer game they had ever seen.
All three coaches, Luis Monjaras (WR) of the boys, Kelly Feldman (TCS) and Jenni Conrad (WR) of the girls, were extremely proud of their players. Feldman said, “I just can’t express how proud of them I am. The season alone was wonderful. But I couldn’t have imagined an ending like that.”
Hailey boys haul home hardware
After their 1-0 loss to last year’s runner-up and this year’s eventual winner Bonneville of Idaho Falls in Thursday’s first-round game, Wood River players were understandably downcast. They had also lost their senior sweeper Spyder Turco to a knee injury.
Monjaras said, “We told the boys you need to do what you need to do to get over it. We wanted to take it one step further than last year at state. We reassured them we were still on the right track to win our last two games for a state trophy.”
On Friday against Columbia, senior Bryan Donoso scored in the 26th minute but the Wildcats reeled off three unanswered goals for a 3-1 halftime lead. It looked very much like a very quick exit for the Wolverines after a very long bus ride up to northern Idaho.
But Wood River was tough and aggressive after half, generally the first ones to the ball. The rigid Hailey defense coalesced around Jeffrey Espejo, Zack Freeman, Nathan Moses, Benito Reveles and Liam Jablonski, with Harlan Collins in the defensive midfield. Goalkeeper Dylan Carey was solid. Slowly, the goals came.
Collins headed home a perfect direct kick by Trevor Brand for a 3-2 game—the first goal of his career for senior Collins. At 68 minutes, senior Ian Murphy equalized on a throw-in from Collins. Eight minutes later Murphy scored the 4-3 decider on a cross from senior Charlie Evans.
Playing familiar league foe Burley Saturday in the rain, Wood River kept plugging away against Bobcat keeper Juan DeLeon (15 saves) and broke through with less than a minute left in regulation time. After a Donoso corner kick rattled around in the box, rangy soph Zack Freeman scored his first-ever goal to win it.
Monjaras said, “Last year we had great athletes on our team (1-2 at state). This year’s team was very determined to step it up and take over. And they accomplished every single goal they had for the season.”
Bonneville (16-2-2) won its second state title in four years 2-0 over Bishop Kelly (13-5-4).
Final team statistics: Wood River 11-7-1 (6-1-0 home, 5-6-1 away, 6-3-1 league for #2 seed) with 3 shutouts in 19 games, Great Basin Conference tournament champ for first time. Goals scored: 37 (2.0). Goals against: 32 (1.7). Individual scoring: Charlie Evans 8 (14 career), Bryan Donoso 7 (22 career), Alejandro Garcia 5, Alex Lopez 3, Ian Murphy 3, Liam Jablonski 2, Benito Reveles 2, Harlan Collins 1, Zack Freeman 1, Trevor Brand 1, Nathan Moses 1, Zack Mizculski 1, Jeffrey Espejo 1, own goal.
Cutthroats are state consolation champs again
The Community School’s chance for a state title ended Thursday in a 2-0 loss to defending champ Payette. Leading Pirates scorer Jordan Rodriguez (36 goals, 19 games) scored twice in the first nine minutes and played defense for much of the second half.
The Cutthroats battled back Friday with a 2-1 victory over Teton of Driggs on goals by Hailey Rheinschild (from Jordan Fitzgerald) and Ellie Swanson (from Whitney Engelmann). The defense led by Emma Wilander shut things down, and Rheinschild and Taylor Figge had fine games.
Coach Feldman said, “We moved the ball well and controlled the game. Really, Emma and Kelly Hennessy were rock solid all three games for us.”
Saturday’s physical fourth-place game against last year’s state runner-up Fruitland was, in Feldman’s words, “the most epic game I’ve ever been involved in.” It was 2-2 after regulation time thanks to goals by Wilander, her first, and Hennessy (free kick), plus a huge breakaway save by keeper Ella Marks (21 saves) near the end of the second overtime period.
Feldman said, “Fruitland was very physical, throwing elbows and grabbing jerseys and complaining about every call. We also lost Hailey (Rheinschild) to a red card for a handball in the box, so we played 85 minutes a man down.
“The girls never got rattled and didn’t retaliate despite the whining, pushing and elbow-throwing of the other team. In the shootout, Fruitland’s first and third shooters missed and Ella (Marks) saved their second shot. Whitney (Engelmann) made our second shot, and Jordan (Fitzgerald) sank our third shot. When Fruitland’s fourth shooter missed, we won!”
Feldman said her team had some adversity but hung together and earned its trophy.
“We had four freshmen who played way beyond their years. Whit and Jordan scored the winning PKs. Hannah Dies never stopped running and had a number of great scoring opportunities. Katie Feldman controlled the middle in the first two games but played in the back against Fruitland. She won everything that came her way, especially in the air.
“The seniors were the backbone. Kelly and Emma in the back kept everyone together and focused. India Emerick was a rock in the middle and completely unflappable no matter what Fruitland threw at her. Chelsea Cloud ran hard on the left wing. Ella Marks surprised everyone with her play.
“It was an incredible season.”
Snake River of Moreland (19-1-1) won its first-ever state title 2-1 over Payette (14-4-1). Payette striker Rodriguez scored all five of her team’s goals.
The Community School girls’ and boys’ soccer banquet is set for Sunday, Nov. 14.
Final team statistics: Community School 17-3-0 (8-1-0 home, 9-2-0 away, 12-0-0 league for #1 seed) with 10 shutouts in 20 games, High Desert Soccer Conference champion Goals scored: 109 (5.5). Goals against: 23 (1.2). Individual scoring: Ellie Swanson 28 goals (score in 13 of 20 games), Hannah Dies 19, Jordan Fitzgerald 15, Whitney Engelmann 10, Freya Dickey 7, Hailey Rheinschild 6, Kelly Hennessy 5, Katie Feldman 3, Gabi Perenchio 2, Taylor Figge 2, Chloe Francois 2, India Emerick 2, Emi Carr 2, Emma Wilander 1, Ella Marks 1, Daniela Stokes 1, Bria Gillespie 1, Natalie Vorsteveld 2, Chloe Chrysikopoulos 1. Career scoring: Swanson 12-28 for 40 (#5 all time), Dickey 20, Rheinschild 18, Wilander 17, Hennessy 12, Perenchio 11.
So close, so far for WRHS girls
You have to win your first game for a chance at the state soccer tournament title.
The Wood River girls did just that Thursday at Post Falls—beating previously unbeaten Hillcrest of Idaho Falls 3-2 on goals by Sloan Storey (from Tanner Dredge), Dredge (unassisted) and K.T. Martinez (from Haley Montgomery).
Junior goalkeeper Cheyenne Swanson (8 saves) “really stepped up and was a clutch player for us,” Conrad said. It was 1-1 at half, then the Wolverines out-shot the Knights 13-3 after half for a 22-8 game edge.
The win set the stage for Friday’s semi-final match against defending champion Sandpoint, a 3-2 overtime winner over Kuna Thursday. And what a game it was, 0-0 all through 80 minutes and the two 10-minute overtime periods!
“Unbelievable game,” said Conrad. “I had people come up to me and say it was the best soccer game they had ever seen. Madison (Hailey senior goalkeeper Gove) played out of her mind, probably the best game she played all season.”
In the five-player shootout, Sandpoint shot first and made its first two kicks for a 2-0 lead. Gove made a total lay-out save to stop Fruitland’s third try, then Storey succeeded for Wood River making it 2-1. Martinez tied it 2-2 on Hailey’s fourth try, but Sandpoint made it 3-2 on its fifth shot. Wood River missed its fifth shot.
“We were so close, we could taste it,” said Conrad. “We just came out one short in the shootout and had a hard time recovering from it. The game took a great toll. When we played Skyview for third place Saturday, we had our opportunities but were just a little off.”
Skyview (16-6-1) ended up winning 3-1—Storey scoring Wood River’s only goal and Gove making 10 saves. Conrad said, “Skyview put a lot of pressure on us and took us off our game. We fought so hard, it was a sad way to lose and a tough way to end the season. But the skill level and maturity the girls showed was really something. I’m proud of them.”
Bishop Kelly (22-0-0) won its third state title in four years over Sandpoint (9-7-5) on Saturday, also in a shootout after another 0-0 regulation tie and two overtimes. The Knights prevailed 3-2 on penalty kicks.
Final team statistics: Wood River 14-4-1 (7-0-0 home, 7-4-1 away, 9-1-0 league for #2 seed) with 11 shutouts in 19 games, Great Basin tournament champion for seventh straight year. Goals scored: 101 (5.3). Goals against: 19 (1.0). Individual scoring: Tanner Dredge 29 (score in 12 of 19 games), K.T. Martinez 16 (score in 8 of the last 10 games), Sloan Storey 14, McKenna Chase 12, Jessica Martens 6, Nicole Roos 5, Haley Montgomery 4, Erin Murphy 3, Maggie Williams 2, Madison Gove 2, Taylor Hayes 2, Halsey Pierce 2, Ellen Davis 1, Teagen Palmer 1, Grace Eagan 1, own goal. Career scoring: Dredge 14-39-33-29 for 115, 21 hat tricks, 4-or-more goals 11 times; Martinez 9-15-16 for 40; Palmer 18, Storey 16, Roos 11.