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For the week of  October 31 - November 6, 2001


Surprise, surprise 
at state soccer

WR boys second, 
‘Throats take consolation

Express Sports Editor

You never know in sports.

They can be totally infuriating, or totally fulfilling. They bring out the best in you and your teammates. They also challenge you to accept unwelcome swings in fortunes.

That’s why they play the games.

Last week’s State 3A boys’ soccer tournament in Buhl was a challenging, thrilling and often perplexing time for the Wood River High School and Community School teams.

The record-setting Community School boys’ soccer team (21-3) poses on its home Browning Field just prior to last week’s state tournament. Front, from left, Taylor Rothgeb, co-captain Quinn Orb, Josh Kantor, goalkeeper Drew Detwiler, John Hayes, Luc McCann and Bobby Flanigan. Back, from left, coach Bob Brock, head coach Richard Whitelaw, Zac Brown, Ethan Weston, Hannes Thum, Chris Cook, Josh Sonneland, Blake Schnebly, co-captain Josh Stanek, Sean Higgins, Chadd Montgomery, Nic Hanscom and coach Phil Huss. Not shown is Ash Higgins. Express photo by Willy Cook


Wood River, forced by circumstances to rely on young players, was glad to be at state after a hard-fought district tournament and a turbulent season. No one really expected Wood River to do anything.

Helped by a favorable draw, Wood River stunned most observers by making it all the way to Saturday’s championship game before running out of steam against the onslaught of a very swift band of Payette Pirates.

It was the fourth straight state championship game appearance for the Wolverines of coach Brian Daluiso (16-7-1), a remarkable achievement.

Daluiso called Friday’s 2-1 overtime semi-final triumph over Snake River "the high point of our season."

"Snake River was probably the third-strongest team in the tournament," said Daluiso. "The Community School and Payette were clearly the strongest two. It was definitely an upset for us to win."

While Wood River was fulfilled, The Community School swallowed a bitter pill.

The highly-regarded Cutthroats had mixed feelings about seeing their colleagues and friends from Wood River playing in Saturday’s championship contest.

Coach Richard Whitelaw expected his Cutthroats (21-3) to be in the final game, striving hard to cap a superlative, record-setting season.

But the Cutthroats, handed an unfavorable first-round draw against Payette, couldn’t preserve a 2-0 half-time lead and fell 3-2 to the Third District champion Pirates Thursday.

Ketchum/Sun Valley, its 19-game winning streak snapped at a bad time, gritted its teeth and settled for the fourth-place consolation trophy with 4-1 and 4-2 wins Friday and Saturday.

"We’re the most successful fourth-place team in the state," said Whitelaw, whose team played a great game in beating last year’s state champion Weiser 4-2 in Saturday’s consolation final. "It was just a tremendous season for us."

Payette (17-1-1) finished with 18 consecutive wins, outscoring opponents 80-13 in that streak.

The Pirates won their first legitimate championship at this level, having been handed the 1996 title when winner-on-the-field Twin Falls was disqualified for using ineligible players. Payette also won the State A-3 title from 1993-95.


Surprising Wood River

Great team defense provided Wood River with its state championships in 1998 and 1999. And the defense led by junior sweeper Kyle Risner was excellent at state this year.

The defense wasn’t tested in Thursday’s 4-0 win over a weak Shelley team, but Wood River’s attack outshot the Russets 10-1 in the first half and went ahead 1-0 on a penalty kick by Tate Mills at 33 minutes.

In the second half, Ted Dankanyin’s corner kick was headed home by Brazilian foreign exchange student Daniel Bolognesi for a 2-0 lead at 60 minutes. Bolognesi (11 goals in the last seven games) made it 3-0 at 70 minutes.

Wood River High’s boys’ varsity soccer team completed a rebuilding season with a state championship game appearance Saturday in Buhl. Just before the title game, they posed near the goal. Front, from left, Brandon Epp, K.C. Rivera, Slater Storey, Willie Meyers, goalkeeper Honza Walter, Steve Durkin, Sagen Howard and Ted Dankanyin. Back, from left, Eros Cugusi, Marcus Acker, Mike Sinnott, James Cimino, Chase Cleveland, Kyle Risner, Tate Mills, Shane Cordeau, Matt Hansen, Daniel Bolognesi and coach Brian Daluiso. Express photo by Jeff Cordes


An aggressive run by K.C. Rivera supplied senior stopper Eros Cugusi with a shot for the fourth and final Hailey goal.

Friday, Wood River’s game against Snake River was a microcosm of the entire season—the Wolverines battling back from adversity.

Whistled for offsides after offsides and hit with three yellow cards and a red, Wood River constantly pressed the action and played like a team with absolutely nothing to lose.

Playing with the wind at its back in the first half, Wood River outshot the Panthers 11-6. Bolognesi got Hailey on the board in the 19th minute when he stepped in, stole a pass and stuck the ball in the corner.

Junior Brandon Epp just missed several great scoring chances in the second half, including a shot seemingly headed for the corner with just four minutes left in a 1-1 tie.

As time ticked down, Wood River was forced to play a man down. Rivera, who had been winning a lot of balls in the midfield, was given a red card on a questionable call at 69 minutes.

But Risner kept making great play after great play on defense, helped by fellow defenders Matt Hansen, stopper Cugusi and Mike Sinnott. And senior keeper Honza Walter from the Czech Republic made several outstanding saves.

Just three minutes into the first 10-minute overtime, Mills sent a pass ahead to Epp, who collected the ball and slammed it off the Panther keeper’s hands through the short side and into the side of the net.

His teammates piled on him.

"We just never let down," said Daluiso. "We were up against it—a man down with the wind against us in OT. And Brandon had been close all game." He told his team, "You guys were awesome. Just a bunch of little scrappy guys."

Epp, who had chugged hard to catch up with Mills’ pass, said, "At first I didn’t think I could get to it. But I did, then I aimed for the lower right corner and kicked it as hard as I could."

Daluiso said, "Our defense has learned. Early in the season they were inexperienced and undisciplined. But they came out and did it and became the fourth Wood River team in a row to make the championship.

"I was really pleased. What more can a coach ask for but having his team playing its best at the end of the season?"

Saturday’s championship game against Payette was a 6-1 mismatch, Bolognesi scoring in the second half on a perfect lead pass by Marcus Acker.

"Payette was impressive," said Daluiso, who didn’t dwell on the outcome but focused on the entire season. "At some points, this season could have ended disastrously. So it was great they turned it around."


Consolation for Cutthroats

Against Payette, first-half goals by leading scorer Josh Stanek and Nic Hanscom (a header off a corner kick by Josh Sonneland) put the Cutthroats ahead 2-0 at the half.

Stanek suffered an ankle injury early in the game, however, which penetrated the Cutthroat armor although the senior continued to play. But Payette owned the second half.

Forced on the defensive for the first time, the Cutthroats scrambled against the relentless Pirate pressure and surrendered the tying goal on a penalty kick and the eventual winner on a header off one of many Payette corner kicks.

Sonneland hit the crossbar with time running out and Payette held on to win 3-2. "Man of the Match" was defender Taylor Rothgeb.

Friday, the Cutthroats played with the wind at their backs and outshot American Falls 19-2 in the first half for a 2-0 lead on goals by Stanek (from 27 yards) and stopper Quinn Orb (from midfield).

An outstanding individual play by Sean Higgins made it 3-1 at 60 minutes. A build-up from Rothgeb to Stanek to "Man of the Match" Sonneland ended up with Higgins’ second goal and the 4-1 final score.

Saturday’s consolation championship turned into a well-played contest between the Cutthroats and last year’s state champion Weiser Wolverines.

Blake Schnebly’s strong defensive play in the midfield set up Sonneland for a floating 25-yarder and a 1-0 Cutthroat lead at 17 minutes. Chris Cook found the corner with a left-footed shot at 20 minutes.

Stanek set up Sean Higgins for a 3-1 Ketchum lead at 28 minutes. In the second half, its lead 3-2, the Cutthroats scored their final goal of the season when Stanek stuffed the ball home after the Weiser keeper stopped a testing Higgins shot.

"Men of the Match" were co-captains Orb and Stanek. Stanek scored at least one goal in the last 22 Cutthroat games.

"It was a great game," said Whitelaw. "We could have easily packed it in after the first day."



Vital statistics

Wood River final stats: Overall record 16-7-1, equaling the school mark for wins. Second place in district, second place at state. Fourth straight appearance in state title game.

Offense: 88 goals (3.7). Defense: 57 goals (2.4).

Individual scorers: Chase Cleveland 21 goals, Daniel Bolognesi 14, Vince Nagashima 12, K.C. Rivera 9, Tate Mills 9, Ryan Skahill 5, Brandon Epp 5, Mike Sinnott 4, Marcus Acker 4, Eros Cugusi 3, Shane Cordeau 2.

Coach: Fifth-year coach Brian Daluiso (64-17-7) has a 12-4-2 record in five state tournaments including two first places, two second places and one fourth place.

Community School final stats: Overall record 21-3 (14-0 league), setting a school mark for wins. Put together a 19-game winning streak and outscored league opponents this fall 130-18. First place in district, fourth place at state.

Offense: 155 goals (6.5). Defense: 37 goals (1.5).

Individual scorers: Josh Stanek 53 goals (94 career), scoring at least one goal in the last 22 games of the season.

Sean Higgins 29 goals (43 career), Josh Sonneland 19 (28 career), Nic Hanscom 16 (27 career), John Hayes 7, Josh Kantor 7, Chris Cook 5, Chadd Montgomery 3, Hannes Thum 2, Blake Schnebly 2, Bobby Flanigan 2, Quinn Orb 2, Taylor Rothgeb 2, Ethan Weston 2, Drew Stoecklein 1, Finn Brown 1.

Coach: Tenth-year coach Richard Whitelaw (110-49-12) has a 13-7 record in seven state tournaments including two first places, two third places and one fourth place.

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