Is 2011 the year when The Community School girls' soccer team will finally climb the top step of the podium and claim its first-ever State 3A soccer championship? Put it this way—all the pieces seem to be in place.
Tenth-year coach Kelly Feldman (105-46-9) has led the Cutthroats to two consecutive State 3A consolation championships, meaning that the Sun Valley girls have won two of their three state games in both 2009 and 2010. They've been knocking on the door and learning to win close state games.
Undefeated in 28 straight High Desert Soccer Conference league games and owners of two consecutive league championships, the Cutthroats are 61-19-3 the last four years. They've made 10 straight trips to the state tournament. Particularly strong the last two seasons, they've outscored opponents 189-53 and boast 22 shutouts in those 42 games since 2009.
And the scary thing is, the backbone of Feldman's new team consists of sophomores, or, to be more accurate, veteran sophomores.
Feldman said, "We have a very strong returning contingent of players so we hope to pick up much where we left off last season. The sophomores will continue to be the backbone of the team with the juniors and seniors filling in key roles.
"Getting (goalkeeper) Josie Bunce and Teagen Palmer back are also big bonuses for us. The freshmen are working hard and seeing steady improvement as we inte grate them into the team. All in all, looking good!"
Feldman and assistant coach Erika Connelly have welcomed 25 girls to practices and have a 15-game regular-season that debuts Saturday, Aug. 20 at 11 a.m. with the resumption of the long rivalry against Wood River High School. The non-conference game between 4A Wood River and 3A Community School will be played at the high school field in Hailey.
It's the first of three games the Cutthroats will play against 4A Great Basin Conference teams, the others at home with Twin Falls Aug. 27 and at home with Canyon Ridge of Twin Falls Sept. 10. The other 12 Cutthroat games are all High Desert Soccer Conference contests.
Such games against bigger schools are essential to sharpen the Cutthroat competitive edge before, in the best state-qualifying scenario, they encounter the tougher 3A schools at the Oct. 20-22 tournament in Caldwell. Last year, the Cutthroats dropped their state opener 2-0 to Payette before beating Teton 2-1 and Fruitland 2-2 (2-0 kicks) for consolation honors.
Reigning State 3A champ is Snake River of Moreland (19-1-1), which captured its first state title 2-1 over defending champ Payette (14-4-1.)
Having averaged 4.5 goals per game over the last two seasons, the Cutthroats don't lack noses for the net. But the return of senior sniper Teagen Palmer is a welcome one. Palmer led the Cutthroats with 25 goals as a freshman in 2008 before moving to Wood River where she scored 18 the last two seasons, but only one during an injury-plagued 2010.
Junior Ellie Swanson (a team-high 28 goals last fall) came into her own as a sophomore, scoring in 13 of 20 games, and with 40 goals in two years is poised this fall to shatter the school's career scoring mark of 51 goals held by Langely McNeal.
The next three leading scorers for the Cutthroats last fall were all freshmen—Hannah Dies (19), Jordan Fitzgerald (15) and Whitney Engelmann (10). They were big reasons the Sun Valley squad of 2010 tied the school's all-time best record with a 17-3-0 mark. And they're all back and hungry.
Feldman said other expected HDSC contenders are Filer and Buhl, with Wendell showing steady improvement. The Cutthroats defeated Buhl 7-0 for last year's league title, then Filer beat Buhl 2-1 for the second state berth from the league.
This year, the seven-team league gets 2.5 state berths.
Seniors—Co-captain Josie Bunce, co-captain Hailey Rheinschild, co-captain Gabi Perenchio, Noe Garing, Katie Dumke and Teagen Palmer
Juniors—Taylor Figge, Ella Marks, Maddie Caraluzzi and Ellie Swanson.
Sophomores—Emi Carr, Chloe Chrysikopolous, Hannah Dies, Whitney Engelmann, Katie Feldman, Jordan Fitzgerald, Allison Fleutsch, Chloe Francois, Erin Hennessy and Hayley Murach. Lena Perenchio broke her ankle the first day of training and is out for the season.
Freshmen—Josie Allison, Isabelle Caraluzzi, Sarah Runkel, Claire Siderman and Lauren Sunday.