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PREP SOCCER: Alive and kicking ... Swider leads Coeur d’Alene to win over Post Falls as high school sports return for first time since March

Sports Editor | August 22, 2020 1:14 AM

POST FALLS — Due to COVID-19, it’s been a long wait between games for everybody.

But it was an even longer wait for Coeur d’Alene High senior forward Chris Swider.

Swider, whose high school season last fall ended after three games because of a broken bone in his right foot, scored on a free kick in the 26th minute, and Cooper Proctor made a big save late as the Vikings edged the Post Falls Trojans 1-0 on a breezy Friday afternoon in the season and Inland Empire League opener for both teams at Post Falls High.

“After missing last year’s season, it felt good to finally get out and play,” said Swider, who broke the fifth metatarsal on the outside of his right foot last September.

On the free kick, from some 28 yards out and slightly left of center, Swider hooked the kick past the Trojan wall and inside the near post. Post Falls keeper Kael McGowan read it and got his hands on the ball, but it deflected off them and into the net.

“I think Chris was the X-factor that we’ve been talking about the last two years,” Coeur d’Alene coach Braden Ridgewell said. “After coming back from his injury, he’s proving to me he has the ability to be the top player in the state. And today was nothing short of that.”

Coeur d’Alene controlled the run of play early, and Swider missed left from 15 yards out on a feed from Otis Jeffords moments after his first goal. Post Falls had some chances after intermission, the best coming when Logan Koller charged down the middle for a header in front of the goal mouth off a two-man corner, but Proctor made the save to preserve the lead.

“Their keeper made a fabulous save on that header,” Post Falls coach Gabe Lawson said. “Nine times out of 10 that ball goes in.

“It was just frustrating; we didn’t feel our fitness levels were up to par, like they normally are,” he added. “But we did muscle through, and they did take a hold of that second half quite well. But we didn’t find that connection.”

The game was played before perhaps 125 mostly social-distanced fans. Players and coaches wore masks on the bench, and a jug of hand sanitizer sat on a table between the two benches.

“Honestly, it felt a little surreal; it felt like at any moment that this could get canceled, like everything else,” Ridgewell said. “But once that whistle blew, it was like ‘game on, here we go.’”

Friday marked the first day of high school sporting events since March 14. So from that perspective, Friday’s game was a win for both sides, no matter the result.

“It’s exciting; it gives me lots of hope,” Ridgewell said. “Totally looking forward to the season; got a lot of super, awesome athletes, and we’re just excited to give them something to pour their energy and time into. And the fact that it’s soccer makes it all better.”

Swider said the players were getting used to the masks and hand sanitizer, since that’s been part of their training since the summer.

“So thankful,” he said. “I just hope we can have a full season for us.”

“Very thankful that we’re out here,” said Lawson, who served on a statewide committee tasked with bringing soccer back as safely as possible. “We’re doing all the precautions necessary to make sure the season goes forward.

“We’re just super happy to at least played the game today. It makes things a little more positive going forward; hopefully it holds together once school starts.”

On Tuesday, Coeur d’Alene plays host to Lakeland, and Post Falls travels to Sandpoint.

First half — 1, Cd’A, Chris Swider (free kick), 26:00. Second half — none.

Shots on goal — Cd’A 7, PF 4.

Saves — Cd’A, Cooper Proctor 6; PF, Kael McGowan 2.


Chris Swider (21) of Coeur d’Alene controls the ball as Aiden Junttila (8) of Post Falls defends and Otis Jeffords of Coeur d’Alene looks on Friday at Post Falls High School.