Varsity Extra

One Valley soccer team won its 3rd straight state title. Another got its first in 22 years.

Bishop Kelly senior Lauren Elwer fires a shot while Sandpoint’s Mya Darling applies pressure in the 4A girls soccer state championship game Saturday at Coeur d’Alene High.
Bishop Kelly senior Lauren Elwer fires a shot while Sandpoint’s Mya Darling applies pressure in the 4A girls soccer state championship game Saturday at Coeur d’Alene High. For the Idaho Statesman

The Bishop Kelly juggernaut faced its toughest test all season Saturday. But the Knights answered the challenge, beating Sandpoint 2-1 in the 4A girls soccer state championship at Coeur d’Alene High.

The victory delivers Bishop Kelly (22-0-0) its third straight state title and adds another tally to its 64-game winning streak.

“It’s crazy to think that we’ve had three state titles,” Bishop Kelly senior defender Evelyn Elwer said. “Everyone wanted it so badly. This was our goal in the beginning of the year, and this is the perfect way to finish.”

Evelyn Elwer, not her goal-scoring sister Lauren Elwer, had a hand in both of the Knights’ goals Saturday. Knotted a 0-0 in the 67th minute, the left-footed center back curled a corner kick into Sandpoint’s 6-yard box. Traffic in front of the net kept the Bulldogs’ goalie from getting clean contact as she tried to punch the ball clear. Instead, the ball deflected off her and into the net for the opening score.

“She didn’t have any way to stop it because it was a really well-placed ball,” Lauren Elwer said. “She’s scored a couple this year curving it in. We can always count on her on corner kicks because she’s supper accurate. Whenever she takes a corner kick, something good happens.”

Evelyn Elwer found herself standing over another corner kick eight minutes later. She lifted a cross into the box, which Sandpoint managed to beat away from the net. But Mia Cartwright headed home the second-chance ball from 8 yards out.

Sandpoint (12-4-1) forced the Knights to sweat out its third straight state title when Riley Walkington scored in the 79th minute. But Bishop Kelly held on to bring another state championship trophy back to Boise.

“We celebrated the two goals, but it never really hits you until the final whistle,” Lauren Elwer said. “We were excited, but also sad because we’ve been with this team so long.”

Bishop Kelly dominated opponents all season long, finishing the year outscoring opponents 142-14 (+128). But as the target on the Knights’ back grew larger and larger, Sandpoint always loomed for a potential state championship matchup.

Bishop Kelly beat the Bulldogs for its last two state titles.

“After the game, it was like a deep breath and, ‘Oh my, God. We finally did it,’” Bishop Kelly coach Meagan Lyons said. “This game has been hyped all year, and it definitely lived up to the hype.”

Bishop Kelly has won nine state titles since the Idaho High School Activities Association began sponsoring the state tournament in 2000. Bishop Kelly also won three straight titles from 2010-12. No Idaho soccer team in any classification — boys or girls — has won four in a row.

Caldwell boys win first title since 1996

Five minutes into the 4A boys soccer championship game, the deck was stacked against Caldwell.

The Cougars trailed 2-0. Caldwell’s best player, Adrian Arguello, was sidelined because of Friday’s red card. And a history of coming up short at state weighed on the Cougars’ shoulders.

But Caldwell (20-0-2) rallied anyway, scoring three unanswered goals to beat Hillcrest 3-2 at Coeur d’Alene High for its first state title in 22 years.

“It’s just the senior leadership on this team,” Caldwell coach Rhys Yeakley said. “We’ve got 14 of them. They just never panicked.”

Arguello’s younger brother, sophomore Damian Arguello, led the rally. He headed in a cross from Jesus Gonzalez in the 20th minute, then flicked a shot over the Hillcrest (16-2-3) goalie in the 25th minute to pull Caldwell level at halftime.

“We knew we were going to get back in the game,” Caldwell senior Nathan Tamayo said. “But once we got those two, it really got us going.”

Tamayo buried the game-winning goal when he headed home a cross from Hector Bermudez-Tovar in the 50th minute, and Caldwell held on to exorcise last year’s demons. Caldwell held a 1-0 lead in the state championship game a year ago only to surrender two goals in the final eight minutes.

“This year doesn’t happen without last year,” Yeakley said. “If we’d won last year, we don’t win this one. This year was all about working extra hard because of what happened last year.”

Caldwell wrapped up the season undefeated, outscoring its opponents 105-18 (+87). But watching a crowd of Cougar fans celebrate and stream onto a field 400 miles from home provided the lasting memory.

“It’s a dream,” Damian Arguello said. “It’s been a long time since we won. We’ve been trying to get in that spot, but never did. This year, we just fought through and did it.”