Borah High midfielder Ahmed Ibrahimovic has overwhelmed defenses all season with his creativity, vision and quick feet.
But nowhere has he posed a bigger threat than on free kicks. And the junior delivered another clutch one Friday in the 5A boys soccer state semifinals, bending in a game-winning, 25-yard strike to lift the Lions to a 2-1 victory over Hillcrest at Eagle High.
“He’s very analytical about the game,” Borah coach Jayson Transtrum said. “He sees the little spaces, spaces that we would think weren’t a space. And it’s a space for him, a spot for him to put the ball. He just has the ability to do that.”
The win put Borah (14-4-1) into the state championship game against Post Falls (12-3-0) at 7 p.m. Saturday at Rocky Mountain High.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Idaho Statesman
Ibrahimovic set up Hillcrest (13-2-3) goalkeeper Ethan Hatch with several earlier free kicks from a similar location on the right side of the field, launching all but one as a cross to the far side of the penalty area. The one shot he previously fired came off his foot weakly, allowing Hatch to make the save.
But in the 67th minute, Ibrahimovic spotted Hatch cheating toward the far post. So he maneuvered the ball around the right side of the wall, one-hopping it off the turf and off a diving Hatch’s chest at the near post.
“He’s kind of a tall goalie, so if you play it lower, it’s harder for him to get down,” Ibrahimovic said. “I tried to curve it around (the wall) so he doesn’t see it at the beginning, and that little bounce kind of made him tap it in.”
Borah fell into an early hole when Hillcrest defender Jackson Monk slipped a 40-yard free kick past Lions goalkeeper Andrew Palmer in the 12th minute. But Borah responded with a goal from one of its own defenders, Coleton Kelleher, in the 30th minute to tie the game.
After missing the state tournament the past two years, the Lions are in their first state title game since 2011. Borah won its last championship in 2010.
“We’ve been a tough team that’s been right on the edge and haven’t put it together,” Transtrum said. “It’s vindication for the work these guys have been doing and the grind they’ve put in.”
POST FALLS 1, BOISE 1 (POST FALLS 4-2 ON PKs): With a berth in the state final on the line, Post Falls’ Diego Esquivel gambled.
The senior striker fired his game-winning penalty kick directly at Boise goalkeeper Colin Hauser’s chest. Hauser guessed and dove to his left, clearing the way for Esquivel’s strike to hit the back of the net and set off a celebration for Post Falls’ first state championship appearance since 2012.
“I don’t really have a spot that I like to go to,” Esquivel said. “When I know I have to put it away, I just shoot it as hard as I can to the center. The goalkeeper has to dive, so the odds are on me. He won’t just stand there.”
The loss dropped defending state champ Boise (16-2-1) into the third-place game against Hillcrest at 1 p.m. Saturday at Eagle.
Esquivel opened the scoring in the 28th minute when he sneaked off a shot amid three Boise defenders. The Braves answered in the 55th minute when Carson Cadwell’s 25-yard shot forced Post Falls goalkeeper Tanner McCliment-Call to tip the ball off the crossbar. It fell back into play, and while trying to clear it, McCliment-Call carried it across the line.
CLASS 4A: Caldwell’s Gevon Olvera stopped nine shots to post a shutout before penalty kicks, and then made a big save in the tiebreaker to lead the Cougars to a 3-1 shootout victory over Sandpoint.
Jonathan Ruiz, Adrian Arguello and Carlos Lechuga converted their spot kicks for Caldwell (14-4-3), which will face Wood River (16-2-1) in the final at 7 p.m. Saturday at Middleton High.
Wood River knocked off SIC regular-season and district champ Ridgevue 2-1 in the other semifinal.
CLASS 3A: After a scoreless regulation and overtime, Weiser converted all five penalty kicks and freshman goalkeeper Dylan Miranda made one save to top Community School 5-3 in a shootout.
The Wolverines (11-5-2) will face Bliss (16-2-0) at 1 p.m. Saturday at Middleton for the state title.
CLASS 5A: It’s an all-Treasure Valley state championship game as Centennial (18-2-0) faces Mountain View (12-4-4) at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Rocky Mountain.
Centennial advanced to its fourth championship game in five years by knocking off defending state champ Lake City 4-1. Josie Bush and Makayla Christensen each scored twice.
Mountain View topped SIC rival Rocky Mountain 1-0 on Kaydree Rapp’s first-half penalty kick for its first trip to the finals since 2010.
CLASS 4A: Junior Lauren Elwer poured in five more goals to lead defending state champ Bishop Kelly (21-0-0) to its 41st straight win and a 6-2 victory over Vallivue. Elwer has scored eight goals through the first two rounds at state.
The Knights will take on Sandpoint (11-3-1) at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Middleton in a rematch of last year’s state championship game, after Sandpoint beat Skyview 4-1.
CLASS 3A: Shelley (17-2-0) knocked off Weiser 4-2 to advance to the championship against Coeur d’Alene Charter (16-0-1) at 10 a.m. Saturday at Middleton.
Weiser (16-2-1) will play Marsh Valley (14-3-1) for third place at 1 p.m. Saturday at Vallivue.