A number of the Emmett boys soccer team members and some fans carry a screen shot on their cell phones of the pre-season coaches poll for this year’s soccer prospects. The Huskies were picked to finish ninth out of nine teams in the Southern Idaho Conference in August.
Saturday the Huskies scored early and then held on against a furious rally attempt by Canyon Ridge to win the first 4A State Soccer tournament trophy in school history. Emmett brought home the consolation trophy from the event after dropping its first tournament game to Jerome on Thursday and then bouncing back to win back to back games to earn the hardware.
“We believed in ourselves, even when few others did,” senior scoring sensation Kiko Solis said after the tense 3-2 win over Canyon Ridge. “First you have to believe. Then you have to put in the work. We did that all year, even after our win streak was snapped. We never stopped believing we could be here today.”
Solis, who scored in all but two of Emmett’s games this season, scored twice in the opening half against the Riverhawks to put the Huskies seemingly in control at halftime. Canyon Ridge refused to go away, however. A rebound shot ten minutes into the second half pulled the Twin Falls area school within one.
Angel Ayala countered two minutes later, however, with a lofting left-footed shot over the goalie from 25-yards out off a Kiko assist tap. Still, the Riverhawks would not go away. A desperate Canyon River attack on the Emmett goal netted a second carom off goalie Ryan Solis to make it a one goal game again with fifteen minutes left.
Emmett had several opportunities to build a cushion in the closing minutes but saw four shots skip off either the cross bar or the corner of the goal support. At the opposite end it was Ryan Solis who proved to be Kevlar as he recorded nine of his game-total 15 saves in the closing minutes – facing two free kicks and four corner kick situations.
“Ryan was certainly the MVP of this tournament for us,” older brother Kiko offered after the win. “This took all of us every ounce we had left to finish the goal of a trophy this year.”
Ryan recorded a tournament record 42 saves in the three games last week, after garnering 77 the entire season prior to State. Ironically, Ryan’s save total matches the 42 goals that Kiko scored this season, shattering a previous school record set by his eldest brother Kevin in 2013.
2013 was also the only other time Emmett has qualified for a 4A State soccer tournament. That team went 0-2 at state with both Kevin Solis and brother number-two Kaysey on the field. Kaysey was also on the 2015 Emmett team which earned the only other trophy to be garnered by an Emmett soccer team, a consolation trophy at the 3A level tournament.
Emmett had opened the tournament taking an early lead on a Kiko score but Jerome broke through late in the second half and was able to put together a 3-goal flurry within a few minutes to advance to the championship side of the bracket. Ryan had 18 saves against the Tigers.
Kiko scored on a penalty kick against Twin Falls in the second round of play and that was enough as Ryan blocked a Bruin’s penalty kick in the second half for the 1-0 win – Emmett’s first ever in a 4A State soccer tournament.
“This was a very special team, one that grew up tremendously over the past couple of years, and I can’t say just how proud I am of them,” coach Aristeo Alvizo said. “It’s a very special team and it may be a while before we can see something like this again.”
The Huskies do lose nine seniors off this squad but will return a group of younger players who grew into crucial contributors as the season matured. Ryan, the fourth and final of the Solis brothers, will be back to mind the net and eight of the returners recorded goals or assists this season.
Emmett ended the season with a 14-7-1 record, third place regular season in the SIC and with a trophy at State. Not bad for a team which hadn’t won a game in two years entering the season and picked by its peers to finish last this year.
Who believes now?