Wednesday, August 18, 2010

High Desert champs will burn the back of the net

Cutthroat girls play with fire on offense, defense


By JODY ZARKOS
Express Staff Writer

Talent—Check.

Speed—Check.

Skills—Check.

A goaltender?—Not so fast.

The 2010 Community School girls' soccer team would make any coach happy to go to the field each day. Still, there is a question mark in a key area.

Well balanced in all facets of the game, the Cutthroats boast staunch defenders, strong midfielders and fleet forwards who can find the back of the net. The most glaring problem facing ninth-year coach Kelly Feldman (88-43-9) and assistant Erika Connelly is who plays keeper?

Last year's goalie Josie Bunce is at boarding school, and the Cutthroat girls aren't exactly jumping for the job.

Feldman said, "Taylor Figge will probably end up playing the first few games for us. The one who does want to play goalie, Chloe Chrysikopolous, has a little bit of experience but she's injured. It is a toss-up at this point. I think we are going to go with the theory that a good offense is a good defense," Feldman said.

Offense and defense were both strong points for the Lady Cutthroats last season during a 15-5-2 campaign that included another High Desert Soccer Conference title 2-1 over Filer.

The Cutthroats had 13 different players scoring a total 80 goals (3.36 gpg.) and conceding 30 (1.4 gpg.) with 12 shutouts. They earned the school's ninth straight trip to the state soccer tournament.

Sun Valley went 7-2-1 at home and 8-3-1 on the road, including a fourth-place performance with two wins in the State 3A tournament. It was the team's second best showing ever at state. In their last 11 games of 2009, Sun Valley lost only to state champion Payette.

"It is nice to build upon because the girls know that doing well at state is possible and they have the confidence that we do belong there," Feldman said. "In terms of this year, we absolutely have the personnel. We have a variety of abilities but it is much more weighted to the top."

Seniors include 3A District 4 All Conference players Kelly Hennessy, last year's Most Valuable Player, and Emma Wilander, as well as Freya Dickey (8 goals), Chelsea Cloud, India Emerick, Bria Gillespie and Daniela Stokes.

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Hailey Rheinschild (5 goals) was named All-Conference as a sophomore and is one of two juniors along with All-State Gabi Perenchio. Gabi scored both goals against Bonners Ferry in a 2-1 victory at state.

Swift Ellie Swanson was third in scoring last season with 12 goals and Feldman expects her to help lead the offensive charge this year.

The Cutthroats need to make up the 40 goals of production by graduating seniors Erica Eshman (23 goals) and Nellie Brown (17). Other sophs besides Swanson are Chari Inman, Ella Marks and Figge.

Feldman and Connelly have welcomed one of the more gifted freshmen classes ever.

Ninth-graders include Emi Carr, Hannah Dies, Whitney Engelmann, Jordan Fitzgerald, Chloe Francois, Erin Hennessy, Lena Perenchio, Katie Feldman and Chrysikopoulos.

"They come with a depth of experience and knowledge of the game. Most have played soccer at a high level," Feldman said. "We expect them to carry a big load."

Relying on an experienced defense with both Hennessys, Wilander, Rheinschild and Feldman rotating through the back line, Feldman said she might employ a 3-5-2 to capitalize on her teams' outstanding athleticism.

"The challenge is how do they and where do they fit? What looks good in training does not always translate to the playing field," she said.

Feldman said Dickey, a slippery player who always seems to maintain possession in any kind of traffic, will start at attacking midfielder. Fitzgerald, Engelmann, Perenchio and Stokes are capable of handling the rigorous demands of midfield.

A winning combination up front could be the combo of Swanson and Hannah Dies.

Swanson is an excellent finisher, who has a knack for finding and exploiting seams in a defense. On the field, Dies is reminiscent of her father, 1986 All Ivy League player Jack Dies—lanky, yet coordinated with the same unflappable demeanor and laser shot.

Ketchum/Sun Valley went 1-3-0 in the first four games last season and begins this year's 15-game campaign playing two of the same schools, non-conference Twin Falls and league opponent Filer.

The High Desert Soccer League consists of seven teams: Sun Valley, Filer, Wendell, Bliss, Buhl, Declo and Gooding. The Cutthroat non-conference opponents in 2010 are Twin Falls and Canyon Ridge.

"In league, Buhl and Filer are going to be our main competition," Feldman said.

The Cutthroats welcome the 4A Twin Falls Bruins (14-7-2 last fall, 4A state tourney qualifier) to Elkhorn's Sagewillow Farms field Saturday at 11 a.m. First home league game is Wednesday, Aug. 25 with Wendell.




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