Friday, October 28, 2011

SUFC U-14 girls go overtime for Gem State victory

Scoreless duel is decided by penalty kicks

The Sawtooth United F.C. U-14 girls capped off their fall season with the first-place championship trophy at the Gem State Challenge youth soccer tournament Oct. 23 in Boise. Pictured here, with some of their celebration championship frosting, are, front row, from left, Autumn Fluetsch, Lilly Jenner, Olivia Ott, Emily Siegel, Jesse Cole, Sage Rheinschild, Kate Rathfon and Abby Robideaux; and, back row, from left, Maggie Sfingi, Caitie Sfingi, Sam Busby, Quinn Guterman, Ashley Carnduff, Pilar Pennell and coach Dwight Cole. Courtesy photo

The Sawtooth United U-14 girls' youth soccer team capped off its fall soccer season with the first-place championship medals at the Gem State Challenge held Oct. 22-23 in Boise.

Coached by Dwight Cole, Sawtooth U-14 won three of its four games over two days including an exciting 0-0 (3-1 penalty kicks) triumph over Boise Real in Sunday's title game played at the Simplot Complex.

Sam Busby, Ashley Carnduff and Lilly Jenner made the Sawtooth penalty kicks, and goalkeeper Olivia Ott made an important save on Boise Real's second PK to assure the win.

Cole said, "Our team competed in the top U-14 bracket for the tournament. It was a fitting way to end the season, and the 2011 year, for this group of hard-working young ladies.

"Last spring the team entered three tournaments and finished as runner-up in two of the three. With the elusive blue ribbon once again within reach, the girls dug deep and won the Boise tournament."

SUFC U-14 girls was one of six Wood River Valley teams between the ages of 10-14 entered in the two-day fall tournament. Gem State Challenge hosted 141 teams in 249 games on an absolutely gorgeous fall weekend at Simplot Complex.

In its three other games, SUFC U-14 girls won 1-0 over Super Nova Elite (goal by Sage Rheinschild), lost 2-0 to Boise Real and beat Idaho Rush Nike 2-1 (goals by Autumn Fluetsch, assist to Jenner, and Jesse Cole on a 25-yard free kick).

Coach Cole said, "Our overall team defense and goalkeeping were excellent throughout the tournament, giving other teams little time on the ball and forcing mistakes."

Sawtooth U-14 made no mistake early in the shootout.

Busby started things off hammering her PK into the upper left corner of the net. Boise Real equalized. Carnduff calmly stepped up and placed a beautiful left-footed shot into the lower right corner of the net. Keeper Ott blocked Real's next shot, advantage SUFC.

After both teams missed their next shots, Jenner stepped up and efficiently struck her successful PK. Victory was sealed when Real's next PK went wide left.

SUFC U-14 started the tournament with a 1-0 win over talented Super Nova Elite. The winning goal occurred when Super Nova failed to properly clear a ball. Rheinschild collected it and fired from 30 yards. The high floater dipped just under the crossbar. Super Nova applied quite a bit of pressure in the last five minutes, but the SUFC defense held thanks to key saves from Ott.

Boise Real simply out-played SUFC in the second match 2-0. Yet, as Saturday's action wrapped up, SUFC was still in the hunt as all three teams in its group had suffered a defeat.

With one match left on Sunday to qualify for the final, the team put together a nice effort beating Idaho Rush Nike 2-1.

Only two minutes had ticked off when Jenner worked the ball down the left flank and placed a perfect cross to Fluetsch on the far post, about eight yards out.  Fluetsch one timed the ball into the back of the net—one of the most memorable goals this season.

Idaho Rush equalized in the first half on a penalty kick. The two teams battled end-to-end and the match seemed headed for a draw. But with about five minutes remaining, SUFC was awarded its only free kick of the second half from 25 yards.  Jesse Cole hit an amazing game-winning shot, placing it in the upper left-hand corner.

The U-14 girls' team conceded only three goals across four matches, with two shutouts. The back line featured wing fullbacks Pilar Pennell and Kate Rathfon. Caitie Sfingi and Busby held together the center of the SUFC defense.

Wing midfielders Carnduff, Fluetsch and Quinn Guterman worked tirelessly pushing up in the attack, bracketing the other team's goal and recovering to defend. Center midfielders Rheinschild and Cole nailed down the middle working box to box, giving their opponents little time on the ball and controlling the center of the field and initiating the attack.

Up top were Jenner, Maggie Sfingi and Abby Robideaux.

Coach Cole said, "Our strikers constantly harassed the opponents' defense, forcing mistakes and allowing the team to transition into offense in our attacking third. Emily Siegel played well all season. Unfortunately she suffered a knee injury just prior to the tournament and was unable to participate. But her positive team wishes during the final match PK's were quite effective."

( Also last weekend, the SUFC U-11 girls (1-1-2) also played for the tournament title in the Emerald Bracket A but fell to Twin Falls Rapids 2-0 in the championship match. The second-place SUFC U-11 girls beat Crossfire Red 7-0 and settled for 2-2 ties with Twin Falls Rapids and FC Nova Mauzerall.

( Placing second in the Ruby Division Bracket B were the SUFC U-12 boys (2-1-0). They posted 3-2 and 1-0 wins over FC Fury and Twin Falls Rapids, and fell to eventual champion Idaho Rush Blue by a 5-0 count.

( The U-12 girls (1-2-0) placed third in the Ruby Bracket B. They started out with a 5-0 victory over Boise Munich White and then lost close ones to Idaho Rush Grey 1-0 and eventual runner-up Soccer Xpress Blaze by a 3-2 score on Sunday.

( SUFC U-10 boys (1-2-0) recorded a 4-0 win over BNS Boys Select White in Garnet group.

( The improving U-10 girls scored a pair of goals while going 0-3 in the Garnet Division.

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