COEUR d’ALENE — With the pressure of their postseason fates — qualifying for state, or having to fight back through another play-in match — gone, there was still that thing about who was going to call themselves the 5A Region 1 girls soccer champion between Coeur d’Alene and host Lake City on Wednesday.
For the seventh time since 2012, that honor belongs to Lake City, which beat Coeur d’Alene 3-0 at the Irma Anderl Soccer Complex.
The match was scoreless until the 49th minute when Lake City sophomore midfielder Izzy Henkle found a pass and scored past the Coeur d’Alene defense to open the scoring.
“I just saw an open pass, ran to it and hit it,” said Henkle, who missed Tuesday’s practice with a strained hamstring and hyper-extended left knee. “Winning this means a lot. I’ve been looking forward to this season a lot and was looking forward to this match.”
“Izzy just has a way to find those moments,” Lake City coach Matt Ruchti said. “She battled today and did a great job finding her spot.”
Maddy Lasher scored in the 51st minute and Lily Fletcher added a goal in the 59th for Lake City (11-2-0), which opens at state next Thursday at Rocky Mountain High in Meridian against the winner of a play-in match between the fifth place team from District 3 (Boise) and the District 5-6 runner-up (eastern Idaho).
“At halftime, we talked about putting the pressure on them,” Ruchti said. “We just needed to find more of the buildup. We needed to connect more passes before moving forward. I thought we were going forward too quickly, and I told the girls at halftime that your effort will wear them down. We connected a few more passes in the final third of the field in the second half, which opened some things up and allowed us to get on them.”
In most years, the Region 1 second place team goes to a state play-in game. But every few years, the region gets two berths to state, with no play-in.
Coeur d’Alene (5-6-5) will face Rocky Mountain — the District 3 champion — next Thursday at Meridian High.
“We definitely wanted to come out and win,” Coeur d’Alene coach Andy Vredenburg said. “But the pressure (to win) definitely wasn’t what it usually is. We came out with the goal to win for seeding down south, and that was our focus. But we’ve still got a chance to win state.”
Both teams will now have a week to prepare for their next opponents.
“We haven’t been in that play-in match because we’ve had some great players in recent years,” said Ruchti, whose team last played in a play-in match in 2012, when the Timberwolves battled back to win the state 5A title. “But having the five days off (between the regular season finale) and playing Lewiston, and having a few more days off, it kind of killed our momentum a little bit. In the second half, they found their stride a little bit.”
Hailey Jo Parks had six saves in the shutout for Lake City.
“The first half was good for us,” Vredenburg said. “We came out with a little more passion than we had in the first game (a 1-0 Coeur d’Alene win at Lake City on Sept. 21). Hats off to Lake City and Matt’s squad. They came out in the second half, and came at us and finished their opportunities.”
First half — none. Second half — 1, LC, Izzy Henkle (unassisted), 49:00. 2, LC, Maddy Lasher (unassisted), 51:00. 3, LC, Lily Fletcher (unassisted), 59:00.
Shots on goal — Cd’A 9, LC 13.
Saves — Cd’A, Lily Foster 9; LC, Hailey Jo Parks 6.