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Boise becoming a girls soccer hotbed. The top teams, sleepers and players to watch in 2018

Borah senior Kylee Geis is one of 14 known girls soccer players from the Treasure Valley committed to a Division I scholarship.
Borah senior Kylee Geis is one of 14 known girls soccer players from the Treasure Valley committed to a Division I scholarship. kjones@idahostatesman.com

The Treasure Valley has quickly become a must-stop recruiting ground for Division I women’s soccer coaches.

A combined 14 known players — yes, 14 — from the 5A and 4A Southern Idaho Conferences enter the season committed to a Division I program. And some of them haven’t even played a second of high school soccer.

The bounty of talent creates state powerhouses and heated battles on fields throughout the Treasure Valley. The 5A SIC is so deep and unpredictable that Centennial, winner of three of the past four state titles, finished seventh in the 10-team league’s preseason coaches’ poll.

So who’s going to come out on top in 5A? And can anyone stop Bishop Kelly’s 42-game winning streak in 4A? We take a stab at those predictions below.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Kylee Geis, M, Borah

The second-leading scorer for Borah last year, the senior commands the midfield with her work rate, vision and dribbling skills. She was a first-team all-state pick last year and has committed to Utah.

“Kylee can play anywhere on the field and is Borah’s best player on a team that should challenge for the state championship,” Rocky Mountain coach Donal Kaehler said.

Centennial Grace Pekovich.JPG
Centennial will rely heavily on senior defender Grace Pekovich after losing 12 seniors from last year’s state championship team. Kyle Green Idaho Statesman file

Grace Pekovich, D, Centennial

The Patriots’ Ironman, the senior has only missed three games since starting Day 1 as a freshman. The first came on a college recruiting trip, the next two with a hospital stay last fall.

She returned to anchor the league’s top defense and lead Centennial to district and state titles a year ago.

“Grace is my pick for the best defender in the SIC,” Kaehler said. “I’m not sure Centennial can defend well without her.”

Kelsey Oyler, M, Rocky Mountain

The sophomore has already committed to Gonzaga. And with her mix of raw speed, field vision and natural leadership, she’ll step right into a lead role for the Grizzlies.

“She’s a gifted, quick goal scorer,” Boise coach Chris Siegenthaler said.

Payton McBride, D, Borah

The senior continues the Treasure Valley’s pipeline to Utah in recent years. She headlines the Lions’ stout defense and is a dangerous threat going forward.

“Payton is a really tough, hard-working player who you always have to account for,” Centennial coach Steven Snider said.

Bre Norris, GK, Boise

The sophomore already has her college future locked down with a commit to Portland. Her aggressive and assertive nature has her taking command of the Braves’ defense.

“She has already turned heads and dropped jaws during her first week at Boise High,” Siegenthaler said.

Lauren Elwer, M, Bishop Kelly

You can scout a freight train. But that doesn’t mean you can stop it.

The senior, who has committed to Gonzaga, dominates the 4A level, earning the classification’s player of the year award last fall after scoring 56 goals and adding 16 assists. Expect more of the same in 2018.

“(She) is a player that has great field awareness and knows how to dissect defenders and create havoc,” Ridgevue coach Ernesto Soto said.

Elizabeth Gonzalez, F, Vallivue

The senior broke out last season, scoring 39 goals and tallying 11 assists to earn a first-team all-state spot. Her lethal nose for the goal has her committed to Montana.

“(She) is a technical player with great speed,” Bishop Kelly coach Meagan Lyons said. “(She) creates many dangerous scoring opportunities for her team.”

5A SIC BREAKDOWN

Copy: 2018 5A boys soccer preseason poll
Infogram

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

THE FAVORITE: After a third-place finish at state, Rocky Mountain returns eight starters and enters the season as the team to beat.

The midfield remains loaded with all but one starter returning. And the Grizzlies can plug sophomores like Oyler and Ainsley Terada into the hole. They will feed senior forward Jordyn Dalling, one of the SIC’s leading scorers the past two years. She battled injuries last season and looks to claim the scoring crown this year.

THE CONTENDERS: Mountain View returns nine starters after finishing second at state. The Mavericks’ goalkeeper (Emily Morandi), the entire back line and the entire midfield are back and looking to return to the finals. To do so, they will need to find a rhythm with two new strikers.

Perennial power Boise looks to reload after missing the program’s first state tournament since 2000, when the IHSAA began sponsoring the tournament. The Braves turn to their young talent to regain their stranglehold on the state, including junior Payton Baratcart (Boise State commit), sophomore Kendra McDaniel and freshman Logan Smith.

Borah will rely on its two Utah commits, Geis and McBride, to link its offense from sideline to sideline. But the defending state consolation champ must find two central defenders and forwards.

THE DARK HORSES: The depth of the SIC really shines as all three could easily climb their way to the top.

Eagle remains a potent offensive threat behind senior Olivia Smith (BYU commit) and sophomore Sophie Drown (Boise State commit). Timberline fields one of the league’s most dangerous outside backs in Haley Apple (Boise State commit). And don’t forget about Centennial, the defending state champ. The Patriots lost eight starters and 12 seniors but still remain one of the state’s top programs.

4A SIC BREAKDOWN

Copy: 2018 4A boys soccer preseason poll
Infogram

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

THE FAVORITE: Two-time defending state champ Bishop Kelly enters the fall as the SIC’s, and the state’s, clear front-runner.

The Knights only lost four seniors and return eight starters, including three committed to Division I programs: Elwer, senior Tatum Seastrand (Boise State) and sophomore Alicia Chatterton (Boise State).

THE CONTENDERS: Middleton returns six starters and a potent attack after missing state last year. The mix of speed, experience and killer instinct that Maddi Arnold, Emalie Wood, Emmy Williams and Addi Wyatt own have the Vikings eyeing a return trip to state.

Vallivue made a surprise run to take home the third-place trophy at state. The Falcons return nine starters from that team. Gonzalez and Casimira Thomas (13 goals) form a potent midfield duo with junior forward Madison Price (14 goals) on top of the formation.

THE DARK HORSES: Kuna drops down from the 5A level with two potent strikers in sophomore Jayla Ponce and Hannah Hust, who should be entering her junior season but plans to graduate early. Jasmine Ramos will feed the attack in her fourth year on the varsity squad. She’s one of a only few players with varsity experience as the Kavemen must replace 13 seniors.

Columbia is also dropping down from the 5A ranks with a young club. The Wildcats will rely on Hailey Hockett (NNU commit) and a host of multi-position weapons to overcome their inexperience.

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