The Treasure Valley has established itself as the power center of Idaho boys soccer with 5A SIC teams winning four straight state titles, and the 4A SIC sweeping the first-, second- and third-place trophies last season.
Who will compete for championships this season? And which players will stand out in the toughest conferences in the state?
Find out below.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
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Kaden Baratcart, F, Boise
The senior scored 26 goals last season to earn first-team all-conference and all-state honors. His frame, speed and off-the-ball movement make him a challenge for any team to slow down, let alone stop.
“(He’s) a strong, fast forward that knows where and when to make the runs that make him the hardest for defenders to mark,” Eagle coach Chris Butzier said.
Matt Ivanoff, M/F, Boise
The Braves’ offense runs through the senior attacking midfielder, who racked up 13 goals and 11 assists last season. His creativity makes him a constant threat.
“He’s just a complete player — smart, big, physical,” Mountain View coach Steven Brent said. “He see the games really well.”
Ahmed Ibrahimovic, M, Borah
Coaches around the conference rave about the junior’s IQ, his instincts to find the soft spots in defenses and his ability to score from anywhere on the field. He earned first-team all-conference and all-state honors as a sophomore.
“He’s the best player in Idaho because of his technical ability, poise on the ball and attacking vision,” Rocky Mountain coach Bill Taylor said. “This kid is the real deal.”
Sein Min-Ley, M/F, Centennial
The 5-foot-4 sophomore may not look like much. But his foot speed, unpredictably and crafty moves have made plenty of defenders look foolish. He’ll take on the scoring load as the Patriots wait for Manasse Mbuyi to return from injury.
“He may be the most intuitive player in Idaho,” Taylor said. “... This kid can take over a game if put in the right situation.”
Kaden Connor, GK, Mountain View
The 6-2, 195-pound senior fills the net and covers it from post to post. His athleticism and knack for stepping up on the biggest stages have him drawing Division I interest and comparisons to Michael Soderlund, a 2011 Timberline grad who played for Indiana.
“He’s probably the best goalie that I’ve seen come out of Idaho in the last six, seven years,” Centennial coach Scott Lewis said.
Freddy Murrillo, D, Caldwell
The junior steps in as the next in a long line of dynamic center backs from Caldwell. His ability to snuff out threats and distribute from the back earned him first-team 4A SIC honors last season.
“(He’s a) ball winner, organizer and intimidator,” Bishop Kelly coach Jared Vreeland said. “He will be a force.”
5A SIC BREAKDOWN
Reigning state champ and 5A SIC regular-season champion BOISE returns as the heavy favorite. After leading the league with 70 goals last season, the Braves won’t have any trouble filling the net this season with forward Kaden Baratcart and attacking midfielder Matt Ivanoff returning.
The pair of first-team all-conference selections form a dynamic duo. Their production will have to carry the Braves early as they replace their entire defensive line.
Reigning district champ CENTENNIAL starts the season shorthanded with center back Jarren Tullock and midfielder Manasse Mbuyi, Idaho’s only boy on the 2017 All-American watch list, sidelined with injuries. But Tullock is expected back soon, and Mbuyi could return in time for the district tournament.
The Patriots will rely on their depth and the creativity of sophomore forward Sein Min-Ley until reinforcements arrive.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN has established itself as one of the conference’s premier programs. But it lost the state player of the year (Jonah Dalmas) and three more all-state players to graduation.
Add in projected captain and center back Zach Moss leaving the program last week to join the Portland Timbers Academy, and the Grizzlies enter the season with several holes. Look for junior defender/forward Kyle Jones to fill some of them.
MOUNTAIN VIEW is also trying to make up for the loss of one of its top players, sophomore forward Nick Bisango, to an academy. He was picked up by FC Barcelona’s academy in Arizona.
4A SIC BREAKDOWN
RIDGEVUE surprised everyone last season, making state as a first-year program and then making a run to the title game. The defending state runner-up didn’t field a single senior last year, allowing it to bring back its entire roster and assume the spot as the tentative favorite.
Reigning state champ SKYVIEW returns eight starters, including first-team all-conference defender Tanner Ackerman and first-team all-conference forward David Slemmer. Slemmer clinched the state title last season with a golden-goal bicycle kick in the 92nd minute.
Two-time defending district champ CALDWELL lost all-state player of the year Danny Cuevas to graduation. But the Cougars return a strong group of midfielders and attackers who can fill the net.