As expected, the Sandpoint girls soccer team dominated the All-Inland Empire League team for this past season.
Four Bulldogs were named to the team released last week, senior midfielder Hannah Eddy was crowned League MVP and freshman Kelsey Cessna received Newcomer of the Year.
The 4A state champions rolled through league play this season due in large part to Eddy, who tallied 12 goals and led the Bulldogs attack.
Head coach Conor Baranski said Eddy’s performance against Moscow in the district title game where she scored a goal and tallied one assist lifted the team when they were down and helped carry the team to success in the postseason.
“As a senior, [Eddy] set her sights high as she tried to increase her output of goals from her previous seasons,” Baranski wrote in an email, “and scoring 12 goals is an impressive haul, so I am proud that she reached her goal ... I’m very happy that Hannah gets to cap off a successful high school career with this MVP award.”
Cessna stepped in and showed no fear in her first season on varsity. She even made a crucial save in the state title match against Kuna when she filled in for junior goalkeeper Hattie Larson for a handful of minutes when Larson was taken out due to injury.
Baranski said Cessna didn’t play like a freshman and showed how talented of a defender she is and will continue to be in the future.
“Kelsey is the type of player that never complains, never gets too heated and always plays her hardest,” Baranski wrote. “All that being said, Kelsey will punish opponents physically with her speed and aggression.”
Larson, senior midfielder Kiley Webster, sophomore defender Emma Thielbahr and junior forward Jordie Breeden were the four Bulldogs named to the All-League team.
Larson may have been the biggest reason why Sandpoint was able to bring home its eighth state title this year and first since 2014.
Larson shut out two of the best teams in the state, Kuna and Bishop Kelly, during the Bulldogs tournament run and made miraculous saves look easy as she did everything she could to ensure her team walked with a victory in every match.
Baranski would have given Larson MVP of the state tournament if they awarded such a thing.
“The only reason Hattie wasn’t talked about more throughout the season is that she had little to do in our league games,” he wrote. “It wasn’t until state that she showed to the rest of the community how vital she is to the success of our team. Strictly speaking about league, Hattie was in that unenviable situation as a goalkeeper where she had nothing to do for long stretches of play and then she would be called into action once or twice a game. That’s really hard to stay mentally engaged, but of course if anyone can do that, it’s Hattie.”
Webster controlled the center of the field for Sandpoint all season and was consistently in the right place when the team needed her most.
“Kiley is one of those silent work horses that simply goes about her task with quiet determination day in and day out,” Baranski wrote. “As a captain this year, I wanted her to lead by example and she did that all year.”
Breeden missed a few games this season due to injury but she still managed to score the second most goals on the team. Breeden and Eddy provided Sandpoint with a dangerous one-two punch up front and Breeden’s ability to dribble past and through defenders with finesse and speed proved to be key for a successful season for the Bulldogs.
“As a senior next year, we’ll be asking Jordie to lead our attack and I am excited to see her respond to the responsibility and the confidence that should bring her,” Baranski wrote. “She already led our attack at times this year. My favorite game of her’s was the quarterfinal at state where she assisted Emi [Lynch] twice and then got herself the game-winning goal.”
The Sandpoint defense was held down by Thielbahr all season. She was everywhere and whenever the opposing team roared toward the Sandpoint net, Thielbahr was almost always there to slow them down.
Baranski said Thielbahr is “the total package,” and she is so versatile that he could put her anywhere on the field and she’d have success.
“It’s crazy to think that Emma is only a sophomore,” he wrote. “She’s already a leader on the team, and in my opinion, already seems like a veteran. Her maturity as a centerback belies her age and I’m incredibly excited to see her continue to excel in the next two years.”
4A 2019 ALL-INLAND EMPIRE LEAGUE TEAM
MVP — Hannah Eddy, Sandpoint, 12.
Newcomer of the Year — Kelsey Cessna, Sandpoint, 9.
Coach of the Year — Josh Davis, Moscow.
ALL-IEL team — Serena Strawn, Moscow, 11. Ava Jakick-Kunze, Moscow, 11. Ally Gerke, Moscow, 12. Gabby Eldridge, Moscow, 12. Sammi Penick, Lakeland, 12. Hailey Farley, Lakeland, 11. Erika Gallus, Lakeland, 12. Kiley Webster, Sandpoint, 12. Emma Thielbahr, Sandpoint, 10. Jordie Breeden, Sandpoint, 11. Hattie Larson, Sandpoint, 11.