Silver lining for a super soccer season
Cutthroat girls make their first title game
The Community School girls’ soccer team poses at Elkhorn’s Browning Field before its “Senior Night” game against Wendell Oct. 3. Front row, from left, Lena Perenchio, Whitney Engelmann, Jordan Fitzgerald, Taylor Figge, goalkeeper Ella Marks, Ellie Swanson, Maddie Caraluzzi, Josie Allison, Lilly Jenner and Autumn Fluetsch. Back row, from left, head coach Kelly Feldman, Emily Siegel, Katie Feldman, Erin Hennessy, Emi Carr, Hayley Murach, Sydney Hagenbuch, Hannah Dies, Isabelle Caraluzzi, Tara Smith, Sara Runkel, Olivia Ott, Hannah Conn and assistant coach Erika Connelly. Express photo by David N. Seelig
They’ve climbed the ladder, rung by rung, and methodically become one of the state’s best girls’ soccer programs. You don’t make 12 straight trips to the state soccer tournament without having deep tradition.
Not even five-time state champion McCall-Donnelly has been as consistently good as the Community School Cutthroats from Sun Valley in that span.
Yet the McCall-Donnelly Vandals (17-1-1) were a little better at crunch time Saturday and earned their second straight State 3A tournament championship with a 2-1 victory over the Cutthroats on a mild October day at SunWay Soccer Complex, Twin Falls.
McCall junior Taylor Howell scored her second goal of the game in the 49th minute. It broke the 1-1 tie in a close-to-the-vest match with McCall out-shooting Sun Valley 15-13. Cutthroat junior Hannah Dies knotted the score 1-1 with a pretty shot, from Ellie Swanson, just 46 seconds after half.
Cutthroat senior goalkeeper Ella Marks made 12 saves, but McCall finished the season unbeaten in its final 18 games and won the first-place blue trophy.
It was the first time coach Kelly Feldman’s Cutthroats have earned a berth in the State 3A championship game. They settled for the red-colored second-place trophy after earning the third-place green hardware last year, and the consolation black trophy in 2009-10.
McCall-Donnelly, which snapped a 14-game Cutthroat win streak in last year’s state semi-final game at Caldwell, ended a 15-game unbeaten streak for the Cutthroats (16-3-1). McCall (99-9 goals against) was the only team to beat the Cutthroats (99-20) this fall. McCall’s preliminary state wins were 4-1 over American Falls and 2-0 over Shelley.
But Saturday’s one-goal outcome was the closest the Cutthroats have come to McCall-Donnelly in nine losses by a combined 24-6 score since 2004.
Eleventh-year coach Feldman said after Saturday’s title game, “The girls came together and we left it all on the field. We knew what we had to do, and we did a good job disrupting McCall’s rhythm and preventing their lob passes down the field. We had opportunities, but couldn’t put them in.”
McCall had the most chances in the first half, pressuring the Cutthroat defense of Sara Runkel, Jordan Fitzgerald, Erin Hennessy and Sydney Hagenbuch. Freshman Autumn Fluetsch won a bunch of balls in midfield, and Marks had to make eight saves.
On McCall’s 10th and final shot of the first half at 26 minutes, Howell busted into the box and rattled a centering pass from teammate Taylor Garber off the post and into the goal for a 1-0 McCall lead.
The Cutthroats gained the advantage of having the wind at their backs in the second half and capitalized quickly. On a play started at midfield by Fluetsch and freshman Lilly Jenner, the ball went ahead to senior striker Swanson, who passed to Dies. Dies cut across the field, right to left, and left-footed a ball back in the other direction for her 25th goal.
McCall didn’t wait long to change the score, and as always its leading scorer Lindsey Hall, a senior, figured in the goal. Nine minutes after half she hit the post with a shot that bounced back to sophomore Alyssa Tomevi. Tomevi slipped a pass to onrushing Howell, who pounded it into the corner.
For the rest of the game Hall controlled the midfield and limited the Cutthroat chances, helped by defenders Sara Spry, Ashley Nimmo, Bri Zack and Tianna Hinson, all juniors. Kathryn Egnew, the Vandal junior keeper, made 11 saves.
The outcome was a disappointment for the high-achieving Cutthroats, a 22-player team with only four seniors, nine juniors, four sophomores and five freshmen. McCall coach Greg Pittenger had only three seniors, so it should be “game on” in 2013.
“We believed in each other and played for each other. We had great leadership from our seniors. Making the championship game was a great culmination for their careers,” said Feldman (136-54-11), whose teams are 8-4 with four trophies at state in the last four years.
Earlier in the three-day, eight-team tournament, the Cutthroats defeated Fruitland 3-2 and blanked Marsh Valley of Arimo 1-0 for their 11th shutout of the season. Junior Jordan Fitzgerald tallied the winner in Friday’s semi-final victory over eventual third-place Marsh Valley.
Against consolation champion Fruitland (17-5-1) Thursday, the Cutthroats rallied from a 2-1 deficit on goals by Hayley Murach and Swanson, whose game winner was the 75th and final score of her record-setting four-year career. Dies recorded the first goal.
Defender Sara Runkel preserved the all-important opening-round win as she cleared the ball in a goal mouth scramble in the closing moments.
The school’s soccer banquet is Sunday, Nov. 11 at 5 p.m. at Elkhorn Restaurant.
( Final team statistics: Community School 16-3-1 (8-0-0 home, 8-3-1 away, 11-0-1 league for #1 seed, 1st place in HDSC tournament, 2nd place in State 3A tournament) with 11 shutouts in 20 games. Goals scored: 99 (5.0 per game, score in every game). Goals against: 20 (1.0). Individual scoring: Hannah Dies 25 (71 career), Ellie Swanson 16 (75 career), Lilly Jenner 16, Josie Allison 6, Hayley Murach 6, Jordan Fitzgerald 6, Katie Feldman 5, Lena Perenchio 5, Taylor Figge 3, Emi Carr 3, Autumn Fluetsch 3, Emily Siegel 2, Whitney Engelmann 2, Ella Marks 1.