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Sun Valley Community School Girls Bring Home State Championship
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Wednesday, October 26, 2022
 

STORY BY KAREN BOSSICK

PHOTOS BY HANK DART AND JESS WOLCOTT

They had been to four title games in the past 10 years but always came away one short of the championship. But this year the Sun Valley Community School’s girl’s soccer team climbed their way atop the podium, winning the 3A Girls State Championship with a resounding victory in the finals.

The team blanked Fruitland, whom they’d lost to in the finals last year. They put away the Grizzlies 3-0 at the championships in Twin Falls for their first ever state soccer championship.

“It’s just so exciting. It still feels pretty surreal,” said Coach Kelly Feldman. “It’s over the top for these girls that they could have this experience and pull off such great victory. It never crossed their mind that they couldn’t do it.”

“Pretty exciting for the girls to win the state title for the first time ever when it is also the school’s 50th anniversary year,” added Carrie Lightner, whose daughters Maya and Tess are on the team.

The Cutthroats, who had 18 wins and one tie heading into the tournament, got to Saturday’s finals by beating McCall-Donnelly on Thursday at the Sunway Soccer complex in Twin Falls. They defeated American Falls 4-2 on Friday.

It was blustery and chilly when they arrived at the field on Saturday. It had rained most of the morning and, as they got out of the van, sharp needle-like hail began to sting their faces. A downpour ensued and the wind howled, but they didn’t let it faze them. Determined to have fun, they hung loose, dancing in the parking lot as the rain let up just in time for their 3 p.m. game.

Gretel Huss, who co-captains the team with Amanda Dunn, scored the first point early in the first half, burying a free kick from 30 yards out into the corner of the net. That gave the girls a 1-0 lead as the first half ended.

Mia Hansmeyer broke through the defense in the second half, putting the ball in the net to give the Cutthroats a 2-0 lead. And Scarlet Rixon scored the final goal as the Sun Valley Community School team won 3-0.

“We just dominated the game,” said Feldman.

The team had won its first two matches in overtime in 2021 before losing to Fruitland 4-3 during a hard-fought championship match.

Sun Valley Community School’s girl’s soccer teams have played in five finals over the past 21 years. They’ve placed second, third and fourth several times.

Feldman said many of the teams in Sun Valley’s league have improved over the past couple years leading to a lot of close games.

“It helps that the league has improved across the board--that’s good for everybody,” said Feldman, who has been the team’s head coach for 21 years. “We had to work hard to win a lot of games. And that hasn’t always been true in past years. It makes a difference if you show up to the state tournament and have already played some intense games.”

Feldman added that the team set themselves up well last year and came in kicking this year.

“We played in the final and lost to Fruitland, whom we beat this year. So, we had all that experience coming in and the girls had a good idea of what to expect. Then, we just had the stars align, we had the plan rotate the right way.”

The girls also didn’t let the pressure get to them, Feldman said: “They were relaxed and excited and focused--there was no pressure to play.”

Jess Wolcott, whose daughter Amanda Dunn co-captains the team, agreed: “I don't think the team had any expectations going into state. What was most important to them was to have fun. They're strong athletes with good heads on their shoulders. We are all beaming with pride.”

Wolcott has had two daughters on the soccer team.

“High school sports are something really special and when you watch your daughter and her teammates come together as such a strong, bonded and level-headed team it's an incredible thing to witness,” she said. “When you place them in the hands of such quality coaches and it results in winning a state title for the first time there's really nothing like it...especially when your daughter is in her senior year. It's so emotional. It falls into the All-American dream category and it feels really good.”

Wolcott said she has watched the sport build self-esteem in the teenagers, putting  them in situations where they have to be a part of a team and work together.

“Anything that encourages your daughters to stay active is a positive in my book, she said. “And, as we just realized by winning state, anything is possible!”

The Sun Valley Community School soccer team has 34 girls on the roster but was allowed to take only 20 to the championship game.

They are: Meredith Bromley, Scarlett Carruth, Niki Cohen, Ruby Crist, Hadley Duke, Amanda Dunn, Mia Hansmeyer, Taylor Hovey, Gretel Huss, Maya Lightner, Tess Lightner, Audrey Morawitz, Attie Murray, Scarlet Rixon, Josie Sarchett, Riley Siegal, Graysen Strine, Anika Vandenburgh, Anabel Viesturs and Reese Walther-Porino.

Head Coach Kelly Feldman is assisted by Assistant Coaches Erika Daly, Jordan Fitzgerald, Jeannie Woller and Athletic Director Richard Whitelaw.

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