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STATE HIGH SCHOOL SOCCER TOURNAMENTS: Seeds planted, now the games begin

| October 21, 2021 1:20 AM


Sports writer

There's a bit of a mystery when it comes to kickoff of the state high school soccer tournaments, which begin in all classifications this morning in the Boise area.

Gone are those predetermined matchups from years past. Instead, the Idaho High School Activities Association adopted using rankings to seed teams after qualifying tournaments had been completed.

The coaches up north at least, are a little skeptical.

"MaxPreps does not work for a state like Idaho," said Lake City coach Matt Ruchti, in his 19th season as coach. "It just doesn't work. You're going to get a handful of undefeated teams, and then you're looking at what region is better than whose. Highland (of Pocatello) is undefeated, and we've played some like opponents in Madison and Thunder Ridge. There's a bit of an unknown how with it for sure. But we'll play who's in front of us and see what it looks like from there."

Coeur d'Alene Charter's girls, winners of the past five state 3A titles — all under coach Stacy Smith, are seeded second to Fruitland, which failed to qualify for state in 2020.

"It really doesn't matter where we're seeded," said Smith, whose team opens their title defense against Teton today at Vallivue High in Caldwell. "We haven't played Teton in a few years. When you get to state, everyone wants a shot at that trophy, so it really doesn't matter who is seeded where."

5A BOYS: Lake City (17-0-1), the top seed, opens at state today at Eagle High against Lewiston (8-8-0) at 9 a.m. PST. Lake City has beaten Lewiston three times, including 3-0 in the regional title match on Oct. 13 at home.

"Lake City has always had a target on our back, so we are used to it," said Lake City coach Alan Rich, in his fifth season. "I simply ask the guys to come out and play their best game every game, regardless of who we are playing."

Lake City could face Thunder Ridge in the semifinals with a win. The Timberwolves beat the Titans of Idaho Falls 2-1 on Aug. 27 at home.

"That match gave us the confidence that we could play with the other teams down south," Rich said.

5A GIRLS: Lake City (14-2-0), the fourth seed, opens with fifth seed Timberline (13-4-1) of Boise today at 10 a.m. at Rocky Mountain High in Meridian.

"We've got to be a lot better than we were (in the Oct. 12 regional title game against Coeur d'Alene) to make an impact down south," said Ruchti, who led the Timberwolves to titles in 2012 and 2016. "Highland has had an outstanding run in that area. Boise and Rocky Mountain are both on top of their game. It's the traditional teams, Highland from the east, Boise and Rocky in the south and Lake City out of the north. It should be a fun tournament."

Boise (14-3-1), the defending champion, is the third seed and opens with sixth seed Eagle (11-7-2), which beat Coeur d'Alene 2-0 in a play-in game last Saturday in Lewiston.

Lake City advanced to last year's consolation championship match, but had it cancelled due to snow in the Coeur d'Alene area.

"We've mostly just been taking it one step at a time," Lake City junior forward Georgia Whitehead said. "We've been focusing on each and getting through that. But now that we're thinking about that, we're excited to get back."

Whitehead, along with junior forward Elliotte Kortus — a transfer from the Seattle Academy — have committed to Washington State.

"It's been an awesome experience," Kortus said. "The girls have been super welcoming and the environment they've created here has been great. It's been really fun to play with them and been a good season."

4A BOYS: Hillcrest (14-2-2) knocked out defending champion Vallivue (11-7-2) in a play-in match last Saturday in Burley.

Sandpoint (8-4-0), winners of the Region 1 title, open at state against Canyon Ridge (10-3-5) of Twin Falls today at Brothers Park in Caldwell.

4A GIRLS: Moscow (4-8-1), winners of the Region 1 title, open as the seventh seed against Skyline (14-0-2) of Idaho Falls at Brothers Park in Caldwell.

Preston, last year's 4A girls champion, failed to qualify.

3A BOYS: The road to a title in Coeur d'Alene Charter coach Craig Daigle's first season might look a little rough, but so is playing twice on the same day to take third-place at state in 2020.

"One thing that we've preached all year is to focus on us, not what's happening on the outside or with the other team," said Daigle, whose team opens as the fourth seed against McCall-Donnelly (11-2-0) today at Vallivue High in Caldwell. "What we're doing out there, if we do what we've practiced and do during a game, we feel confident. These boys, they've got a will in them not to lose. The fight in them is incredible."

Coeur d'Alene Charter beat McCall-Donnelly in last year's opening round. Charter's semifinal in 2020 was moved to Saturday morning due to snow, with the third-place match and championship match held later that night.

"I'm so excited to be back at state," Coeur d'Alene Charter goalkeeper Miles Taylor said. "This group of boys is just awesome. It's going to be a blast."

Sun Valley Community School (16-1-2) is the top seed.

Bonners Ferry (11-3-4), the District 1-2 runner-up opens with Sugar-Salem (15-3-0).

"I don't care where we're seeded," Daigle said. "We're just ready to get going."

3A GIRLS: The Panthers (16-1-0) open with Teton (8-5-2) in the final match of the day today at 12:30 p.m. at Vallivue High in Caldwell.

"The target on our back continues to grow larger and larger," said Smith, whose program has played for the state title in the last seven seasons, winning six, including five straight since 2016. "We know that, and we've been able to play through that pressure before. And I'm hopeful we'll be able to do that again."

Fruitland (16-0-1), the tournament's top seed, opens with Timberlake (11-5-0) today at 10 a.m.

"I really like our attitude right now," said Timberlake coach Steve Michael, in his 14th season. "We want to compete, and it's good to have that team that wants to compete and has that mental edge to them."

Coeur d'Alene Charter has seven seniors on its roster, most of which have played valuable minutes at state in recent years.

"I think we're in a good headspace right now," Smith said. "We all know that we've got the same goal. But I think we've got enough upperclassmen to help us get prepared for those tough games."

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