BLACKFOOT – The Idaho State Boys Soccer Tournament begins on Thursday and in the case of the 4A Classification, we are fortunate that the games will be played in Idaho Falls at Bonneville High School.
This year, the pre-set seeding for the Tournament has lumped the better teams in the bottom half of the bracket, (including Blackfoot) and the other teams in the top half of the bracket.
If you go strictly with the Power Rankings in the State of Idaho, the teams are ranked in the following manner: 1. Blackfoot; 2. Canyon Ridge; 3. Bishop Kelly; 4. Century; 5. Jerome; 6. Caldwell; 7. Vallivue; and 11. Sandpoint.
It probably won’t matter in the long run, but the power rankings exist for a reason and that was to give a numerical value to what the teams have done this year, taking into consideration, schedule, wins and losses, goals for and against, and competition.
Anyway, this is a look at the tournament and how the games might be played out.
The first match of the day will pit Bishop Kelley against Jerome at 9 am at Bonneville High School.
Starting from the top of the bracket we find undefeated Bishop Kelly, with their 10-0 record. They will square off against Jerome in a very interesting match-up.
Bishop Kelly did not play a complete schedule due to COVID-19 and the fact that the Treasure Valley had many games suspended or postponed and play didn’t even begin until many other schools had already played a number of games. The Knights are built around defense and the schedule that they did play was stout enough that they appear to be the toughest team in the top half of the bracket. In 9 of the Knights 10 games, they gave up one or zero goals which indicates a strong defense and goal keeper, so look for a tight, low scoring contest against Jerome.
A lot of talk around the state centered around Jerome and Canyon Ridge. Jerome fell to State Tourney competitor Canyon Ridge in the second game of the year by the score of 3-1 and to Caldwell, another state tourney participant, 4-0. Jerome avenged the loss to Canyon Ridge with a 2-1 win a couple of weeks later, and then again in the District 4 Tournament by the same 2-1 score. That means they have a defense, because Canyon Ridge was the highest scoring team in the state, averaging 8 goals per game. It looks like the winner of this first match will probably find themselves in the finals on Saturday.
Even though Jerome may be known as a defensive team, they did score 12 goals against Mountain Home and then came back and beat Mountain Home again by the score of 10-0. Most of the Tigers other games were in the 2 or 3 goal range and they relied on their defense.
Bishop Kelly averaged nearly 5 goals per game, while giving up 1 goal per game, so they are perfectly able to pull off the win in this match. The Knights won both the regular season title and the District title, beating Caldwell in the Tournament finals by the score of 2-1. Since Caldwell was thought to be the team to beat this year in the preseason, and the fact that the Knights haven’t lost yet this year give them just a slight edge in the tournament opener. I am picking Bishop Kelly to beat Jerome by the final of 3-2.
The second match of the day, which begins at 11 am at Bonneville High School, has Sandpoint, with a record of 5-4-2 against Vallivue at 9-3. Sandpoint was the winner of District 1-2, while Vallivue is the third place team from District 3.
It is hard to get a good feel for Sandpoint, who averaged 2.5 goals per game and gave up 2 goals per game. Hence the mediocre record that was just barely above .500.
Countering that is the fact that all four of the teams losses were to 5A schools, twice to Couer d’Alene and twice to Lake City and had a tie against Lewiston. Two losses and a tie against 5A schools and only Lake City is in the 5A State Tournament bracket. If you take those games off of Sandpoin’s record, they suddenly become 5-0-1 on the year. Completely different story from…