North Idaho loaded with soccer talent
Several teams could repeat last season’s successes
North Idaho boys and girls soccer teams ruled at state tournaments last year.
Similar results are anticipated this fall.
In 5A girls, it was an all-North Idaho final last year with Lake City prevailing on penalty kicks over Post Falls.
In 5A boys, Post Falls broke through in impressive fashion.
And in 4A boys, perennially powerful Sandpoint returned to the top of the heap.
The LC and Post Falls girls return the majority of their players.
LC brings back nine of 11 starters and has added two talented freshmen to a competitive program.
“We’re very athletic,” LC coach Matt Ruchti said. “We’ve got a long way to go on the soccer side of things.”
LC struggled much of the season a year ago, posting a 6-6-4 record before turning things around.
“We weren’t very good until state,” Ruchti said. “The thing about our program is we don’t talk about winning games, we don’t talk about winning state championships. It’s attitude, effort and performance. Wins will take care of themselves.”
At Post Falls, they’ve talked about the state title that got away.
The Trojans return 10 starters from a season full of firsts, including qualifying for their first state tournament.
“Now we’ve gotten through all the firsts that we hadn’t achieved,” PF coach Briggs Anderson said. “The one we didn’t achieve, a state title, is motivation in itself.”
The Trojans will be without their best player at times this season. Junior Kelcie Hedge, a junior midfielder, made the U.S. national under-17 team and she’s in England with the team.
“It’s a wonderful thing for her,” Anderson said, “but it’s tough on a program. With that dream for her comes obligation.”
Anderson figures Hedge will be back full time no later than October.
PF and LC expect some battles this year, and the final one could end up being a repeat matchup in the state championship in Boise.
The Post Falls boys have some big shoes to fill particularly on defense while Sandpoint will start nine seniors and will be favored to pull off a state repeat.
The Trojans graduated 11 seniors so they have many holes to fill.
They return the Idaho Gatorade Player of the Year in senior Timmy Mueller, who has given Oregon State University an oral commitment.
“He’s in the best form I’ve ever seen,” PF coach Gabe Lawson said. “He’s bigger, stronger and faster and his skills are better.”
Lawson said the Trojans will be challenged by Lake City and Coeur d’Alene.
He believes the best team in North Idaho is Sandpoint.
“They might be the best team in the state regardless of classification,” Lawson said.
Sandpoint graduated six starters but return five.
“If things go as planned we’ll have nine seniors starting,” Sandpoint coach Adam Tajan said. “They’ve got experience in big high school games and club. They’ve been playing together for a long time. The senior leadership is phenomenal. We have a lot of guys with captain qualities.”