Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Burley?s big dogs bite Wood River 1-0 (2 OT)

Extra time snaps Hailey?s win streak

Express Staff Writer

Burley?s defense throttled Wood River?s explosive offense Saturday afternoon and did a great job marking top Wolverine scorer Audie McCann (left). Photo by David N. Seelig

Burley?s boys? soccer coach Wes Nyblade, a big, emotional guy to start with, was on-one-knee emotional and saying thanks to the soccer gods after Saturday?s 1-0 double overtime win over Wood River?s previously unbeaten team in Hailey.

The underdog Bobcats (12-3-2) had just captured the Great Basin West Conference tournament championship on Wood River?s home field in Hailey and had earned a berth in the eight-team State 4A tournament Oct. 28 at Meridian.

Burley?s narrow win was a little unexpected, since the Bobcats had dropped a 3-2 game to Wood River on the same field just four days before, but it was extremely well earned.

And Burley snapped Wood River?s 23-game unbeaten streak dating back to its 2003 State 3A championship season.

?We love you coach,? the Burley boys said as they mobbed Nyblade and celebrated Bonifacio Sanchez?s game-winning goal in the 15th minute of sudden death OT.

Sanchez, as is his pre-game custom for the Bobcats, had predicted how many goals he was going to score. He said he was going to score one goal and it was going to be the winner.

He turned out right, but he owned thanks to Nyblade?s change in strategy for the two 10-minute overtime periods of Saturday?s close-to-the-vest battle played between the 18s.

Nyblade said, ?We had been playing 4-4-2, but in overtime I thought what the heck it was time to move another winger up front and get back to our 4-3-3. Wood River wasn?t ready for our third guy up front. I knew their left side was sagging.

?I put our three big dogs up front and it worked.?

The main Burley big dog is Eduardo Anguiano, the school?s speedy scoring leader who very nearly gave the Bobcats a 1-0 lead with a blistering shot that went wide eight minutes into the game. Then Anguiano?s header hit the post at the 22-minute mark.

Those were Burley?s best two chances in the first half, and the visitors managed two good chances in the second. It wasn?t until Nyblade sent his three dogs Anguiano, Sanchez and Erick Llanos up front in the second overtime that Burley finally clicked.

Scrambling against the sudden Bobcat pressure, Wood River back Levi Crandall made a great stop against Anguiano in the first minute but Burley kept building. Finally, they had the ball to the left of Wolverine goalkeeper Kristian Timmons, then Burley switched it back to his right.

?We switched it immediately and kept fighting for the ball,? said Sanchez. ?I saw him (Timmons) coming for the ball and kicked it past him.?

Farrell Swain, Wood River?s first-year head coach, said, ?Burley in general did a good job. I was impressed with their overtime.? She added that she saw the changes Burley had made, but thought Wood River ?just needed to play our game? to counter them.

The real stories were Burley?s superb defense and the goalkeeping of Wood River senior Timmons. ?Our defense was great,? said Anguiano. Nyblade, the 11th-year coach who has been the foundation of Burley boys? soccer, totally agreed.

Nyblade said, ?We knew we were playing a heckuva quality team and we tried to figure out the last time we played them just who was making the team tick. We knew we had to contain #4 (Byron Epp), who is a heckuva player, and we knew we had to contain Audie McCann, of course.

?Our goal from mid-season on has been to lock it down and put all our focus into preventing goals.?

Nyblade credited his backline of sweeper Tyson Anderson, stopper Adam Rice and fullbacks Michael Wayment and Samuel Child. They stopped Wood River from getting any great opportunities the entire game.

Meanwhile, Burley?s increasing pressure brought out the senior leadership of goalkeeper Timmons. Swain said, ?Kristian Timmons just comes up big. He?s a clutch player.?

Timmons made back-to-back saves of legitimate scoring chances by Llanos and Thomas Hogan late in the second half, then he made a fine save of a Llanos threat after a beautiful lead pass dished out by Anguiano in the first 10-minute overtime period.

And Wood River senior sweeper and co-captain Sagen Howard consistently cleared Burley attacks. Too much congestion led to the winning goal, though, and Burley celebrated.

Visibly disappointed, Swain said, ?It?s one game in a season and we still have an opportunity to go to state. Having more games will give our team opportunities to find their game.?

Last Thursday, Wood River started the Great Basin tournament off on the right foot with a 2-0 triumph over Minico?after a scoreless first half. The Wolverines out-shot Minico 30-2 and were knocking on the door all game.

Junior outside midfielder McCann nailed a penalty kick 19 minutes into the second half after a handball in the box. Then senior left MF Byron Epp deflected a shot off a Minico player for the second goal at 66 minutes.

Three must-win games

The loss to Burley left Wood River with the prospect of playing three must-win games in five days to make the State 4A tournament in Meridian.

Tuesday the Wolverines hosted Minico of Rupert in the final home game of the season. A win over Minico (3-16) would have given Wood River second place in the Fourth District 4A tourney. Wood River had beaten Minico 5-0, 6-0 and 2-0 in three meetings this fall.

Preston, a 2-1 loser to Century in the Fifth District championship game Saturday, would then meet Wood River Thursday, Oct. 21 at 3 p.m. in Burley in the 4B/5B playoff game. In the only meeting of the two teams, Wood River beat Preston 3-1 Sept. 11 in Hailey behind three goals by McCann.

Burley plays Century at 5 p.m. Thursday, in Burley, in the Great Basin title contest.

If Wood River can beat Preston Thursday, the Wolverines would then travel to Pocatello Saturday, Oct. 23 for a 2:30 p.m. state play-in game against the Sixth District runner-up, probably Bonneville or Blackfoot. The Sixth District tournament is being played this week, ending Thursday.

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