The Post Falls boys soccer team is making its third trip to state in the last four years.
With 11 seniors, this is the most experienced team the Trojans (14-1-1) will put on the field today when the 5A State tournament begins at Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene high schools. Post Falls will open at home this morning at 11:30 against District III runner-up Borah (12-2-3).
Nine of 11 seniors start with goalkeeper Noah Gondo, a sophomore, and junior forward Timmy Mueller, the Trojans’ leading scorer, being the exceptions.
“Overall, it’s the best team we’ve ever had here,” Post Falls coach Gabe Lawson said. “We might have had more raw talent last year, but they’ve matured a lot since last year and they’re a better team. They’re very united and that comes with age and experience.”
Post Falls will have to draw upon that experience in its opener. Borah was runner-up at state last year and comes from the toughest league in the state.
“If we can get through that first game we should be in good shape,” Lawson said.
Mueller, a three-year starter, leads the Trojans with 26 goals and seven assists. He has 68 goals in his career. Senior midfielder Lucas Whitten has a team-high 14 assists, and senior defender Brady Ulen is the key to a defense that has allowed just eight goals.
“We’ve had guys step up where we’ve needed it,” Lawson said. “They’re at their peak right now.”
“Our last few practices have been really good,” Mueller said. “Our biggest key is transitioning from defense to offense. We need to play quick.”
• The 5A girls tournament is being played at CdA and Lake City.
Region I champ Post Falls (11-6) is making its first state appearance. The Trojans open against District III runner-up Boise (11-3-3) at 11:30 at CdA.
Lake City (7-6-4) earned a state berth in a play-in match and takes on Highland (13-3-2) in an opener at 11:30 at LC.
• The 4A State boys and girls tournaments begin today at Idaho Falls.
The Sandpoint boys meet Bishop Kelly and the Moscow girls go against Kuna in openers.
• The 3A State boys and girls tournaments begin today at Twin Falls.
The Bonners Ferry boys take on South Freemont and the Timberlake girls face Marsh Valley.
Seeds, league title on line
The 5A Inland Empire League football championship along with seeding to play-in games for state berths next week will be decided Friday night.
Lake City (4-2-1 overall, 2-0 league) visits Coeur d’Alene (5-2, 2-0) to decide the league title while Lewiston (3-3, 0-2) travels to Post Falls (1-6, 0-2). Both games are at 7.
LC and CdA have already locked up host berths for the play-in games next week. The outcomes of the games Friday will determine which teams are where when the league decides its two state playoff qualifiers.
The league champ will be the No. 1 seed and play host to No. 4 (the PF/Lewiston loser), while the league runner-up will be the second seed and play host to the No. 3 team (the PF/Lewiston winner) in play-in games next week.
The games Friday should be tightly contested.
“The way they play (LC), they’ll just grind it at you,” CdA coach Shawn Amos said. “They’re efficient. I think they’re feeling pretty good about themselves.”
LC coach Van Troxel is impressed with CdA, which starts 12 juniors.
“Those guys are pretty special,” Troxel said. “The key for us is keeping them off the field. They can’t score points if they don’t have the ball.”
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.