The Sun Valley Community School boys’ soccer team will have the target on its back Thursday, Oct. 24 when the Idaho High School Activities Association State 3A tournament opens in Caldwell.
Coach Richard Whitelaw’s Cutthroats are the defending 3A boys’ tournament champions, having won the school’s fifth state soccer title in Twin Falls last October. The Cutthroat seniors boast a remarkable 89-13-3 record over their four years on the pitch.
Also competing on the Vallivue High School fields will be the unbeaten SVCS girls. Coach Kelly Feldman’s Cutthroats are making their 19th consecutive state tournament trip, and are still in search of a first state title.
The match-ups are set, and both tournaments should be fiercely contested, although there is one dominant program returning to Caldwell—the three-time defending champion Coeur d’Alene Charter Panther girls.
CDA Charter is unbeaten in three seasons at 53-0-1 since nipping the SVCS girls 2-1 in the 2016 state championship game at Twin Falls. This season, the Panthers (15-0-0) are bringing 12 consecutive shutouts and a 146-2 scoring advantage into the state tourney.
An eighth-year program, the Panthers have made the state title game five straight years, winning four times and losing only to Weiser in 2015. The scary thing for opponents is last year’s champs coached by Stacy Smith had only two seniors, and six freshmen.
Here are Thursday’s first-round match-ups, with the state championship games set for Middleton High School Saturday at 10 a.m. for the boys and 1 p.m. for the girls:
State 3A boys: At 11 a.m., Sugar-Salem of Sugar City (16-1-1) vs. two-time state championship finalist Bliss (13-5-3), and Weiser (13-1-4) vs. Bonners Ferry (16-2-1). At 2 p.m., SVCS boys (16-1-2) vs. Teton of Driggs (10-5-0), and American Falls (15-1-1) vs. first-year boys’ CDA Charter (10-6-3).
If the Cutthroat boys win Thursday, they’ll play either American Falls or CDA Charter on Friday at 2 p.m. But the SVCS boys have quite a history with Teton, including the 2016 title game in Twin Falls won by Teton over the Cutthroats 1-1 (4-2 kicks).
The Cutthroat boys, making their seven straight state appearance, have made it to the championship game three times in the last four years. They beat Teton 2-1 in overtime during the 2017 first round on the Vallivue pitch.
Senior goalkeeper Meeks Sanchez-duPont has been a mainstay, with 31 shutouts in 63 games over three seasons.
State 3A girls: At 11 a.m., Marsh Valley (13-2-2) vs. SVCS (17-0-2), and CDA Charter (15-0-0) vs. American Falls (11-7-0). At 2 p.m. Sugar-Salem (16-1-1) vs. first-time state entrant Kimberly (11-4-1), and Weiser (11-5-2) vs. Grangeville (8-7-0).
If the Cutthroats win over Marsh Valley on Thursday and avenge their 1-0 first-round defeat to Marsh Valley on the Vallivue field in 2017, the Sun Valley girls may play CDA Charter on Thursday at 2 p.m. in the first meeting of the two elite programs since the 2016 title contest won by the Panthers 2-1 in Twin.
Last year, the SVCS girls captured third place 3-1 over Marsh Valley, while CDA Charter defeated Sugar-Salem 3-0 for the state championship.
And this year, coach Kelly Feldman’s Cutthroat girls have outscored opponents 126-7 and have 15 shutouts, including eight in a row entering the state tourney.
Five Cutthroats have scored 10 or more goals led by Christine Estep with 26. Last year, the Cutthroats finished with only two scorers over 10 goals, topped by all-time leading scorer Lily Fitzgerald with a single-season record 53.
High Desert titles, again
Feldman’s defense with its string of 640 scoreless minutes has been nothing short of sensational in front of senior goalkeeper Sophia Sturgeon.
Last Thursday on the Elkhorn field, the top-seeded Cutthroats breezed to their 11th consecutive High Desert Soccer Conference tourney championship 8-0 over the No. 2-seeded Kimberly Bulldogs.
“Players of the Game” for the Cutthroats were its seniors, Alli Rathfon, Rylee Whorton, Chloe Tanous, Sturgeon and Laine Allison.
Scoring the goals during the 50th straight Cutthroat home win were Falon Hanna (2), Allison (2), Aubrey Duffield, Christine Estep, Rathfon and Tatum Minor.
The defense was consistently strong with sophomore Logan Lindstrom, freshman Gretel Huss, junior Lily Pogue and junior Caroline Estep, and junior Falon Hanna controlled the midfield effectively.
Kimberly’s sophomore goalkeeper Macee Cook was a workhorse, making 14 saves in the first half alone as the Cutthroats out-shot Kimberly 21-0 in building a 3-0 halftime lead.
The Bulldogs advanced to earn their first-ever state soccer tournament berth with a 3-1 state play-in victory Saturday over No. 4 Gooding.
Also Thursday, the Cutthroat boys captured their fifth HDSC tournament title in six years by a convincing 3-0 score over the Bliss Bears at Browning Field in Elkhorn.
Leading only 1-0 at halftime on an early goal by senior Ridley Lindstrom, the Cutthroats struck for rapid-fire goals in the 47th and 52nd minutes on a Lindstrom header (off a Kai Nelson corner kick) and William Everitt’s first goal.
The Cutthroats backed by the defense of Buey Grossman, Shea Brokaw and Trevor Harmon piled up a 9-1 shooting advantage with 3-0 in corner kicks after the half.
“Men of the Match” were the eight senior boys who played—Lindstrom, Sanchez-duPont, Harmon, Brokaw, Grossman, Everitt, Fletcher Stumph and Finn Mallinen. Sidelined by sickness were seniors Max Moss and Cash Dart, the team’s top scorer.
SVCS ended its 2018 championship season with a 14-game winning streak and is unbeaten in its last 18 games entering the 2019 state meet. No. 2-seeded Bliss booked another state ticket 2-0 Saturday over No. 3 Gooding.