Outside expectations were not high for the inaugural season of boys soccer at Ridgevue High.
The Warhawks did not have a senior on the roster, and their coach was hired a week before tryouts.
The circumstances were of little consequence to the team.
“We all had to work together to become a good, strong team,” junior midfielder Martin Guerrero said. “Look at us now — we made it to state.”
Ridgevue was seeded fifth heading into the eight-team 4A District Three Tournament, and the Warhawks upset No. 3 Middeton 3-2 for the league’s third and final spot at state, earning the distinction of being the new high school’s first team to advance to state.
“We’re making history in Ridgevue’s first year,” Guerrero said. “That’s pretty amazing.”
The Warhawks (9-8-3) open play against defending champion Century (13-3-1) at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Idaho Falls Soccer Complex.
“We have to earn what we want. No one is going to give it to us,” coach Oscar Ramirez said. “Every team we play, we’ve played exactly the same. There is no such thing as an easy team. Mentally and physically we are ready, and I don’t think we’re afraid.”
Only five players on the roster had previous varsity experience, and the Warhawks opened the season 3-7-3.
“We had some bumpy roads in the beginning of the season, but we knew that was going to be a part of the adjustment,” junior forward Hector Pena said.
Ridgevue has won six of its past seven, outscoring opponents 34-8.
“I think the effort that we have put into this, it’s paying off,” Ramirez said. “The effort from every single one of these guys, and the staff, is just coming back to us.”
Two-time defending champion Timberline failed to advance to state after losing to Lake City on penalty kicks in a state play-in game Saturday, opening the door for a potential first-time winner.
Five of the eight teams in the field — Coeur d’Alene, Bonneville, Hillcrest, Rocky Mountain and Lake City — have not won a 5A state championship since the Idaho High School Activities Association began sponsoring the tournament in 2000.
Boise, the No. 2 seed from the Treasure Valley, was the most recent winner among the group, hoisting the trophy in 2013. But top-seeded Centennial upset the then-No. 1 Braves 1-0 in last week’s district championship game.
Centennial and Boise each have four state championships, and Mountain View won its only title in 2006.
Weiser broke through for the program’s first state title in 15 years last season, and the Wolverines appear to be among the favorites again this season as one of two one-loss teams in the bracket.
But Weiser, which collected its fourth straight district title with a 6-1 win over Fruitland last week, has a difficult first-round draw against Sugar-Salem, last year’s third-place team.
After winning its first district championship since 2010, two-time defending state champion Centennial must contend with the infamous curse.
A 5A Southern Idaho Conference team has won 14 of the past 16 state titles. But in those 16 years, no team that has won the District Three championship trophy has gone on to claim the state title.
Whether the Patriots believe in the curse or not, their road to a third straight title could be their most challenging yet. The 5A SIC was particularly tight this season, as all but two of the regular-season games between the conference’s top four teams were decided by a single goal or ended in a tie.
Having won eight consecutive district championships, Bishop Kelly’s dominance of the 4A SIC is undeniable. But the Knights have not been as dominant at the state level in recent years.
BK won five of six state championships from 2007 to 2012, but it has come up short in each of the past three seasons.
The Knights could get a little help this year, as the two most recent winners — Preston (2015) and Sandpoint (2013-14) — play each other in the first round. BK is on the opposite side of the bracket.
Also representing the Treasure Valley are Middleton, last year’s consolation champion, and Skyview, which is back at state for the first time since 2010.
UC Davis-bound senior Lauren Bouvia set a national record last year with 127 goals in 21 games, leading Weiser to a state title.
While the senior is not likely to break her record this season — she has 92 goals entering the tournament — the Wolverines are heavy favorites to repeat with the dynamic scorer on their side.
In three games at state last season, the Wolverines outscored opponents 18-4, with Bouvia scoring 16 of those goals.