Varsity Extra

Treasure Valley dominates boys soccer in Idaho. The top players, teams to watch in 2018

He’s deaf. but what his team likes is how he plays soccer

Braden Anderson, 16, has been deaf since birth, but what he's known for on the Boise Nationals U-16 boys soccer team is the way he plays.
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Braden Anderson, 16, has been deaf since birth, but what he's known for on the Boise Nationals U-16 boys soccer team is the way he plays.

The state high school soccer tournaments shift to Eastern Idaho this fall. But make no mistake, the road to a state title runs through the 5A Southern Idaho Conference.

A team from the Boise-based league has won five straight boys soccer state titles and 13 of the last 14. And the conference remains stacked entering the 2018 season, which kicks off Friday.

We break down the teams in the running for a state title at the 5A and 4A levels below, as well as some players to keep an eye on this season.

Borah Ahmed Ibrahimovic file
Borah’s Ahmed Ibrahimovic celebrates his game-winning goal in the 5A state championship game last fall. Ibrahimovic was voted the 5A player of the year by the Idaho High School Coaches Association. Joe Jaszewski jjaszewski@idahostatesman.com

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Ahmed Ibrahimovic, M, Borah

Idaho’s reigning state player of the year returns for his senior season after scoring 21 goals and adding 17 assists to lead Borah to the 5A state title. He can take over the game at any moment with his mix of technical skills, vision and creative flair.

“The level of intelligence he brings to the field, combined with his natural abilities, make him the single largest threat to any defense,” Capital coach Benis Omercevic said.

Armin Hasonovic, M, Borah

Ibrahimovic’s cousin creates his own problem for opposing defenses. The reigning first-team all-state selection rarely makes a mistake and is lethal in front of the net. The two form a dynamic pair in the Lions’ midfield

“When you combine him with Ahmed, it’s a killer in the midfield,” Rocky Mountain coach Bill Taylor said. “Their ability to combine with each other is fun to watch.”

Sein Min-Ley, M, Centennial

A junior entering his third season in the varsity lineup, Min-Ley terrorizes opponents with his vision, speed and unselfishness. He was elected to the all-conference second team last year.

“(His) body control is incredible,” Centennial coach Bruce Williams said. “Sometimes he would rather pass than shoot.”

Kyle Jones, F/D, Rocky Mountain

The Grizzlies have the luxury and challenge of finding the proper spot to deploy Jones. He earned first-team all-state honors as a striker last season, but he’s also one of the Valley’s top defenders.

“He’s fast and very smart as a striker or a defender,” Mountain View coach Steven Brent said.

Kristian Quiros, M, Rocky Mountain

The second-team all-state selection commands the midfield for the Grizzlies. His ability to distribute the ball and set up teammates makes the Rocky Mountain attack go. He can find the net on his own too with a lethal shot.

“His ability to strike from anywhere is what makes him so dangerous,” Eagle coach Chris Butzier said. “Anything inside 30 yards is inside his range.”

Adrian Arguello, M/F, Caldwell

After getting elected to the 4A SIC’s all-conference first team as a freshman, he spent his sophomore season with the Portland Timbers academy. He returned to Caldwell as a junior, then missed large portions of the season with an injury and still earned first-team all-state honors.

“He is the best player in the state, any division, any conference, anywhere,” Bishop Kelly coach Jared Vreeland said. “Physically, he is a man among boys. Technically, he is beyond his peers and one of the best Idaho has produced. Tactically, he reads the game 5 seconds before the other 21 players.”

5A SIC BREAKDOWN


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Can’t see the above preseason coaches’ poll on your phone? Click here.

THE FAVORITES: Perennial power Boise enters the season atop the coaches’ poll again after winning the district title and leading the league in goals scored (83) and fewest allowed (11).

The Braves will have to rebuild their lineup with just four returning starters. But three of them come in the midfield, including second-team all-state selection Carter Luthy.

District rival Borah is right on the Braves’ heels. The Lions returning three first-team all-state selections from last year’s state championship team — Ibrahimovic, Hasanovic and junior defender Tyler Kramer. Borah’s entire midfield remains intact, but it is searching for two new strikers.

THE CONTENDERS: Rocky Mountain has to overcome the loss of junior midfielder Alan Casey, who is training in the Portland Timbers’ academy. But the Grizzlies have plenty of other options in a loaded midfield and a roster with 15 seniors.

Meanwhile, Timberline also returns 15 seniors and junior forward CJ Brewster after a rare season that fell short of the state tournament. That depth and experience will remain key as the season wears on.

THE DARK HORSES: Centennial, long a conference power, is rebuilding on the fly with just three returning starters: Min-Ley, junior midfielder Braden Anderson and sophomore goalkeeper Roark Looney. First-year Patriots coach said his young team will lean on Looney as it replaces its entire back line.

Mountain View is also searching for new talent to step up after graduating seven starters. The defense remains solid though with three starters back, including Mason Grier, a four-year varsity player.

4A SIC BREAKDOWN

Copy: 2018 5A boys soccer preseason poll
Infogram

Can’t see the above preseason coaches’ poll on your phone? Click here.

THE FAVORITES: Caldwell, the defending state runner-up, returns with an enviable amount of experience. The Cougars bring back nine starters, including all four of its midfielders, to take the top spot in the preseason coaches’ poll.

Arguello teams with Carlos Lechuga to lead the midfield, senior Javier Rodriguez is one of the league’s top returning defender and first-team all-state goalkeeper Jevon Olivera will erase any mistakes.

Vallivue surprised the league last year. After going 2-13-3 in 2016, the Falcons posted an 11-6-1 record last fall and finished second in the league standings.

Vallivue won’t sneak up on anyone this year with first-team all-conference pick Hector Arreola and Adam Flores pairing up to control the midfield.

THE CONTENDERS: Bishop Kelly returns five starters. The Knights will rely on a strong defense led by senior defender Seth Cram and senior goalkeeper Sam Ryan as they search for a consistent scoring threat.

Middleton fell a win shy of the state tournament last year but returns the bulk of its lineup in 2018. Look for junior forward Antonio Rossi and senior defender Jacob Duncan to make an impact after a three-month stay at the academy of an Italian Serie A club.

THE DARK HORSES: Ridgevue has wasted no time making itself a state power, reaching the state championship game in its first year and finishing third last year. But the Warhawks return just one starter this season.

Nampa drops down from the 5A classification with 10 returning starters, including last year’s leading scorer (Cesar Perez) and leader in assists (Humbento Lopez).

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