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For the week of Nov. 3, 1999 through Nov. 9, 1999

Back-to-back! Wood River boys win state 2-1 in OT

Unbeaten on the road, Wolverines (13-1-3) repeat title


It’s not easy winning a state championship for the first time. Doing it again, repeating, going back-to-back, requires maturity, composure and a fierce will to win.

Those were traits of the 1999 Wood River High School boys’ soccer team. The Wolverines, as coach Brian Daluiso said, "played hard, played fair and played with class."

Before hundreds of proud fans, Wood River also played well enough to defeat favored Twin Falls 2-1 in double overtime Saturday, in Twin Falls, and capture its second straight State A-2 boys’ tournament title.

Strong defensively and improved on the attack, Wood River (13-1-3 overall, 8-0-2 away) never lost on the road this fall. By beating Twin Falls in Twin for the first time in five years, the Wolverines stayed unbeaten in eight state tournament games over two years.

Wood River finished the best boys’ soccer season in school history unbeaten in its final 13 games, the only blemish a 2-1 loss to Twin Falls Sept. 11.

"I don’t think the crowd could have asked for a better final," said Daluiso. "It was so intense—close, clean, well-officiated, both teams playing for something. Our guys were covered with sweat. They were working very hard, but were still strong at the end."

"To be defending champions is a tough place to be—to have that much pressure and rise above it. We had the heart and desire to do it."

And two key goals.

Top Wolverine scorer Jason Southward (23 goals in 17 games) scored twice, including a penalty kick in the first of two 10-minute overtime periods, as Wood River avenged its only loss of the season.

It was Twin Falls taking the early initiative. The Bruins scored in the first minute when sophomore striker Brock Cooper caught the Wolverine defense napping for a 1-0 lead.

Steadying itself, Wood River held off the Bruins for the rest of the 45-minute first half and became stronger and stronger in the midfield and on the attack by the second half. The Wolverines surrendered very few corner and direct kicks.

Defense wins championships, Daluiso said. Senior sweeper Chad Cleveland was the leader of the defensive five featuring left back Charlie Parker, right back Ryan Northrop, stopper Ryan McCauley and goalkeeper Charlie Askew.

"Chad was all over the place," said Daluiso. "If I had to choose a tournament MVP, it’d be a tough call, but I’d have to go with Chad or maybe with Graham Watanabe, our energizer bunny out there.

"Charlie Parker is the most underrated kid on our team, Ryan Northrop led the way in our first two state games and Ryan McCauley is always so tough in the middle."

Another Wolverine secret weapon was junior forward Mike Spaulding. His speed off the bench frazzled opponents at state. Daluiso said, "Mike had a great tournament. He’s so fired up when he comes in, he just makes things happen."

Fifteen minutes into the second half, Spaulding turned up his jets and was tripped about 30 yards out. McCauley teed up a direct kick. Lining up in front of their keeper, Bruin defenders focused on blocking out Southward and Spaulding.

They forgot about Wolverine senior wing Josh Smart.

As McCauley’s line drive screamed toward the goal, Smart quietly released from his defender and moved toward the keeper. Smart instinctively headed the ball, and it clanged off the post. Southward was there for the rebound and it was 1-1.

Wood River picked up the pressure and had a number of game-winning chances—James Cordes nearly burying a header off a Jess Kiesel corner kick. It went to overtime, a familiar championship game destination for the Wolverines.

Daluiso, remembering Wood River’s OT penalty-kick shootout triumph over Weiser in last year’s final, started to assemble his list of PK shooters. But assistant coach Mark Bucknall noticed something.

"The Twin Falls keeper was having a good game, but Jason was getting tied up all the time," said Daluiso. "Every time Jason got it, he’d dribble and be swarmed by two or three guys. Mark said he thought Twin was going to take him down."

Overtime was two minutes old when Cordes punched a long lead pass ahead. Southward chased it down in the right corner. Two Bruins defenders surrounded him, but Southward used his considerable ball skills to squirt through. He was held. And a penalty kick was called.

Southward found the corner. Suddenly ahead 2-1, Wood River knew enough not to celebrate. It wasn’t sudden death, and there were 18 minutes left in OT. The Wolverines pressed and dominated the remaining time, securing their title.

"With five minutes left, I was really scared," said Daluiso. "I thought Twin Falls would bring everybody. They’re a young team, a team that played awfully well early, and they didn’t have the oomph."

Looking back on the season, Daluiso said, "Last year it was such a surprise winning the state tournament. It made it a little tougher for this team to get a sense of itself—like the only way to go was down.

"After the loss to Twin Falls and tie to Burley, things just fell apart. We weren’t on the same page. I was really upset. I walked off without saying anything to the team after the Burley tie and called off practices for a couple of days.

"Then, on Homecoming Day, I had a meeting with our captains, James Cordes and Charlie Askew. They had organized themselves for practices. We talked for an hour and cleared the air. On Monday we had a team meeting. The kids had their comments and I had mine.

"We started from scratch.

"It wasn’t like we came out like a huge ball of fire after that. But they improved each game so they were peaking by the state tournament. They did things together off the field, accepted everybody and were a team in every sense of the word.

"We just had real solid athletes, guys who worked well together and did what was asked of them."

Named to the 18-player State All-Tournament team were seniors Cleveland, Cordes and Watanabe; and junior Southward.

In other state tourney games:

Wood River beat Bonners Ferry 4-0 Thursday with Thayne Rolf and Spaulding scoring in the first half, then Southward (header) converting a Kiesel corner after half and Spaulding adding a second goal;

The Wolverines beat Weiser 1-0 Thursday in a hard-fought battle on another Southward PK; and tied Skyview of Nampa 0-0 Friday to earn their championship game berth.

Going unbeaten on the road for the first time in school history, the Wolverines ended up scoring 58 goals (3.4 per game) and allowing only 15 goals in 17 games. They outscored state opponents 7-1.

Season scorers: Southward 23 goals (scoring in 13 of 17 games), Cordes 10, Watanabe 7, Rolf 6, Spaulding 4, Smart 3, McCauley 3 and Kiesel 2. Others were Robert Fundy, Will McNeal, Vince Nagashima, Alfredo Ojeda and Ryan Skahill.

WOLVERINE NOTES—In both state championship seasons, Wood River players didn’t draw a red card. "And we didn’t have that many yellows," said Daluiso….Red-shoed Southward, whose "Sideshow" nickname of 1998 was shortened to "Show" in 1999, has 34 goals in two seasons and is close to the all-time school scoring record of 36 goals held by Nick Butler (1986-89) and Brad Jaques (1987).

Daluiso attributed Wood River’s scoring rise from 34 goals last year to 58 goals this year to more success on free kicks and corner kicks….Over three years with Askew in the goal, Wood River is 32-8-6, outscoring foes 123-53.

Askew, Cordes, McCauley and Watanabe, with Cleveland as alternate, were chosen for the first Fourth District A-2/A-3 All-Star game Saturday, Nov. 6 at 1 p.m. at Burley. Community School coach Richard Whitelaw is the A-3 coach…Wood River team banquet is Thursday, Nov. 11 at Rico’s. 

 

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