Hillcrest’s Tofik Haws tries to win a header in Saturday’s 4A boys soccer state championship game versus Caldwell in Coeur d’Alene. Photo by Jason Duchow

At Coeur d’Alene, the Hillcrest High School boys soccer team fell to Caldwell 3-2 in the 4A state championship game.

The Knights took a 2-0 lead within the first 10 minutes of the game. Balor Reilly scored 54 seconds into the game off a Jake Hoover assist and Reilly assisted Omar Reyes on a goal eight minutes later. Caldwell scored twice in the final 20 minutes of the first half to knot the game at 2-2 at halftime. The game-winning goal for the Cougars came within the first 10 minutes of the second half, and Hillcrest coach Ryan Ellis said the Knights spent the final 30 minutes of the game working to get an equalizer.

“We just couldn’t get one in,” Ellis said. “Once we got the 2-0 lead, we were kinda going back and forth. Once they got the first goal, they got some momentum from the crowd. There were a lot of Caldwell fans there. After the second goal, we weren’t deflated but we were frustrated about giving up a 2-0 lead.”

Ellis described the second-place trophy as bittersweet. It marks the best finish in program history for the Knights, who had never played in a boys soccer state title match before Saturday, and it marks the second time in as many seasons Hillcrest brought home a state trophy. The Knights claimed third in 5A last season.

“It’s quite the feat,” Ellis said. “We were extremely happy, but we’re extremely disappointed as well. We were that close to winning a state championship. As a coach, it’s been awesome all year. It’s been a good experience for the boys.”

Hillcrest ends the season 16-2-3 and graduates nine players. Ellis said he anticipates his returning players to gain from their state tournament experience.

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