TWIN FALLS — Community School jumped out to an early lead in the 3A boys’ soccer state championship Saturday, when junior James Everitt found the back of the net just two minutes into the match.
Who would’ve guessed that Cutthroats would go scoreless for almost two hours of field time.
It all ended in heartbreak for Community School, who lost to Teton in penalty kicks Saturday in the 3A state championship game.
After Everitt’s goal, the score remained stagnant for the next 77 minutes, with the Cutthroats clinging to a 1-0 lead over Teton.
Community School dictated tempo for most of the match, as the Cutthroats’ midfielders possessed the ball and made crisp passes, attacking only when an opportunity presented itself.
Teton turned up the heat in the final 10 minutes, however, and kept the ball on the attacking side of the pitch for the majority of the final minutes. Initially, Teton wasted several scoring chances, missing the frame by mere inches.
With less than a minute to go in the match, senior Jackson Chadwick finally scored on a shot that glanced off the Cutthroats’ keeper’s hands.
“I’m a positive coach, so I wasn’t stressed. I trust those guys so much. I knew they could turn it around and get one in. The game was a little crazy, but I wasn’t worried,” said Teton head coach Jesus Castro.
In all, seven yellow cards were handed out in the match, and dozens of fouls were called.
The Cutthroats had opportunities to put the game away during the two overtime periods, including two clean looks for leading goal-scorer John Blackburn.
“We wanted to avoid penalty kicks if we could,” said Community School head coach Richard Whitelaw. “That’s a lot of pressure on the kids. We practice penalty kicks every day though, so there’s no reason the players should be afraid. But it’s always great to get a winning goal in overtime instead.”
Neither team could find the back of the net though, and the game headed to a penalty kick shootout after 20 minutes of overtime.
Community School senior Dehner Figge, who made the penalty kick on Friday that sent the Cutthroats to the state championship, drained the first penalty kick. Senior Rey Velazquez, who led much of Teton’s attack in the final 10 minutes of regulation, did the same.
Teton keeper Francisco Romero saved the next two Community School penalties, while Teton made theirs.
Junior Paal Bredal placed Teton’s fourth penalty kick in the bottom-left corner to secure a 4-2 penalty kick advantage and secure Teton’s first state championship in boys soccer since 2006.
“All I was thinking was, ‘don’t miss.’ I didn’t want to let my team down. When you have a shot at glory, you can’t waste it,” said Bredal.
While Community School head coach Richard Whitelaw admitted the loss was disappointing, the Cutthroats feature a young roster. Several freshmen played meaningful roles throughout the season, including Ridley Lindstrom, who scored both goals in the team’s 2-1 win over Bonners Ferry in the first round of the state tournament.
“It was a spirited performance from both teams, and that’s all you can ask for. That’s the beauty of soccer,” said Whitelaw. “I hope our young guys don’t get complacent and think it happens every year. But they got a taste, and had the experience, and the foundation has been set now.”
The loss brings Community School’s final season record to 17-4-0, finishing as 3A state runner-up for the second year in a row.
Boys’ Third-Place Game
Bliss 1, Sugar-Salem – 0 (4-3 PKs)
After a tough 6-0 loss to Teton in the 3A state semifinal game on Friday, Bliss bounced back in the third-place game to knock off Sugar-Salem in penalty kicks.
“Each player decided they weren’t going to come into this game angry and bitter like they left yesterday after the loss to Teton,” said Bliss head coach Dustin Henkelmann.
The Bears’ defense notched its seventh shutout in 18 games in the process.
“The beginning of the season was tough. We struggled a little bit. But by the end of the season, we were all family. Our defense works great together,” said Bliss’ keeper Alfredo Garcia.
After a scoreless regulation and scoreless 20 minutes of overtime, Bliss made four out of five penalty kicks. Junior Armando Cordoba and sophomore Steven Rubio made the Bears’ first two penalty kicks, and after Sugar Salem’s keeper blocked one, senior Tyler Brown and junior Angel Juarez made the next two.
On Sugar-Salem’s final kick, Garcia dove too far to his left to block the shot, which was right down the middle, with his hands. Garcia threw up a leg, however and blocked the penalty to secure a win for Bliss in the final game of the season.
“We had never played an offense like we did yesterday. After those first two goals, we broke down in terms of attitude and chemistry. Luckily, our guys pulled themselves together, put the loss in the past, and treated this game like it’s the only game they have to play,” said Henkelmann.
Bliss’ soccer team was a cooperative effort between four different high schools – an effort that ended as the third-place team in the Bears’ first state tournament appearance since 2008.
“Getting the kids to come together was my priority from the beginning of the season. I said from the beginning that I didn’t care if we won a single game. We had to come together. And being able to finish the season as one cohesive unit feels pretty good,” said Henkelmann.
With the win, Bliss ends the season with a record of 14-3-1.