Post Falls’ boys open state soccer with victory
Reece Knudsen stepped behind the penalty kick mark with a heavily taped broken left hand that looked like the size of a meat mallet.
The Post Falls senior midfielder eyed the left corner of the net, and his shot curved well inside the post to lift the Trojans to an exhilarating 1-0 win over the Borah Lions in a 5A State boys soccer opener under sunny skies at Post Falls High School.
The Trojans (15-1-1) take on Skyline (14-5-1) this afternoon at 2 in the semifinals.
“That was pretty intense,” said Knudsen, who pointed out he’s never been in a shootout that went to the 10th kickers. “I just went in and said I’ve got to score. You can’t be negative. I was saying left corner … and it bent in on me. I just knew I had to step up.”
In a match that was ultimately decided by a save and the last shot, the Trojans’ air-tight defense kept the Lions at bay through the 99th minute in the second overtime. That was when Borah (12-3-3) finally got its first shot on goal that a Trojans defender, edging back near the goal, had to fend off.
As much as Post Falls controlled play, that one shot could have been the difference before penalty kicks were needed to decide a winner.
That, in a nutshell, is the sport of soccer.
“The run of play was definitely in our favor the entire match,” Post Falls coach Gabe Lawson said, “but that happens. Sometimes the bounces don’t go your way and you’ve controlled the whole match.”
Both teams’ defenses were tenacious. Post Falls had opportunities, but Borah, which had been shut out just once this season, withstood.
Moments before Knudsen’s winner, Trojans sophomore goalie Noah Gondo deflected a shot by Mitch Markovetz.
Both teams missed a shot and finished in a 4-4 deadlock after the first five chances of the shootout.
Twice the Trojans, who are making their third appearance at state in four years, had to make shots to dodge defeat.
“That was a lot of pressure and I’m sitting over there having a heart attack,” Lawson said of the shootout. “What that is, is a tremendous amount of focus. That is where this team has been all year.”
“It was all a team effort there,” Knudsen said. “It wasn’t one player. That’s how we play. We’re a defensive-minded team. They (the Lions) have some great players and they’re a great team, but we just came through. It could have went either way.”
Post Falls looked like anything but rookies even though five freshmen played in the Trojans’ first state match.
The Trojans used goals from Sadie Schmeling, Kelcie Hedge, Lexi Smith and Erica Simpson to top the Boise Braves 4-2 in a shootout in an opener at Coeur d’Alene.
Region I champ Post Falls (12-6) faces Eagle (11-6-1) in the semifinals this afternoon at 2 at Lake City.
Joining the Trojans in the semifinals is Lake City. The Timberwolves edged Highland 1-0 in double overtime.
LC (8-6-4), which had to win a play-in match last Saturday to earn a state berth, takes on District III champ Timberline (11-3-4) this morning at 11:30, also at LC.
Post Falls coach Briggs Anderson heaped praise on his team.
“We had a whole lot of heart,” the second-year coach said. “(Boise) was supposed to be the top team from Boise. That just makes the win all the more sweeter.”
Post Falls sophomore goalie Sam Runkle made a critical save in the shootout.
“She dove to the right on their third shooter and made a low, right-handed save,” Anderson said.
Matthew Burgstahler, Joab Logan, Jeremiah Gagnon and Logan Broehl each scored and Treavor Franck added two assists as Sandpoint beat Bishop Kelly 4-0 in a state opener at Idaho Falls.
The Bulldogs (13-5-2) will meet Wood River this afternoon at 1.
Jesus Mendez fed cousin Victor Mendez for the lone goal of the game as Bonners Ferry advanced to the state semifinals with a 1-0 win over South Freemont at Twin Falls. Garrett Skeen made six saves in the shutout for the Badgers (9-7-2), who face Gooding at 1 p.m. for a berth to the title match.
MacKenzie Hammer scored the only goal in Marsh Valley’s 1-0 win over Timberlake, which faces Fruitland at 11 a.m. in the loser-out consolation semifinals in Twin Falls.