Freezing rain could not dampen the enthusiasm The Community School girls' soccer team displayed in a dominant 4-0 victory over the Buhl Tribe in the High Desert Soccer Conference tournament Tuesday at Sagewillow Farms.
Maintaining great shape and positioning, the Cutthroats kept one-dimensional Buhl on its heels, getting steady play and passing from back to front.
"I thought we moved the ball very well," head coach Kelly Feldman said. "The back line of Frannie (Sensenbrenner), Kayla (Cloud), Emma (Wilander) and Kelly (Hennessy) was very solid, and we had very good play all the way through."
The Cutthroats controlled the pace of the game from the outset with midfielders Freya Dickey and Ricki Eshman directing all traffic north toward the Tribe goal.
Right midfielder Madison Murach launched two shots that careened off the side posts and Nellie Brown outran the defense for a 1-v-1 that was shot high.
On the second of four corner kicks in the half, Hennessy delivered the first blow, pocketing the ball in the far upper right corner from the left side. A little puff of wind at just the right time aided the goal, but David Beckham would have surely ripped his shirt off had the goal been his.
Minutes later, Brown (15 goals season, 27 career) made good on her fourth shot of the half. She collected a through pass by Eshman, beat three defenders and slotted it low left far out of reach of Buhl's goalie.
"Nellie has really turned it on lately and become a force," Feldman said about Brown, who has scored at least one goal in seven of the last eight Sun Valley games.
Stinging hail and sideways rain sent fans scurrying at the conclusion of the first half, which ended with the Cutthroats leading 2-0. In the final 40 minutes, Eshman (23 goals, 41 career) punched in two goals, including a header on a corner by Hennessy.
Goalkeeper Josie Bunce finished with five saves, including one on a shot that Feldman thought was a sure goal. "I turned to Carolina (Stevens) and said, 'That's a goal.' I don't know how she got back and caught it," Feldman said.
It was Sun Valley's 11th shutout of the season and second consecutive of the tournament. The Cutthroats have outscored opponents 75-24 and have allowed only four goals in seven games since falling 5-1 to highly regarded 4A Twin Falls Sept. 18.
In conjunction with Tuesday's game, The Community School honored its seniors Brown, Eshman, Murach, Kayla Cloud and Kerry Lee Nelson.
With the victory, the #2-seeded Cutthroats (12-4-2) advanced to the HDSC championship game played yesterday, Thursday at the field of #1 Filer (12-2-5).
Shooting for its first conference title, Filer defeated #5-seeded Bliss 3-0 Tuesday.
The winner of Thursday's Filer-Community School game will have earned the HDSC championship and a berth in the eight-team State 3A tourney Oct. 22-24 in Caldwell.
The HDSC champion is due to open at state Oct. 22 against the winner of a Saturday, Oct. 17 playoff in Jerome matching District 5 runner-up American Falls against the winner of Thursday's District 3 runner-up game between McCall-Donnelly and Payette.
Defending State 3A champion Fruitland (12-1-1) won its state return ticket Tuesday with a 3-2 victory over McCall-Donnelly. Fruitland will meet the HDSC runner-up team in the first round at state.
If The Community School lost to Filer Thursday, the Cutthroats will host a Saturday, Oct. 17 state play-in game at 1 p.m. against the winner of Thursday's HDSC loser-out game between Buhl (10-3-3) and Bliss (5-9-1).