"It was a great game. It just didn't turn out the way we wanted it to."
That's what Wood River High School boys' varsity soccer coach Farrell Swain said Monday after her Wolverines dropped a spine-tingling 2-1 double overtime, penalty kick shootout battle to host Burley in the championship game of the Great Basin Conference West tournament.
Swain added, "It was a hard loss and a little heartbreaking."
The two teams deadlocked 1-1 at half. It was scoreless in the second half. After two 10-minute sudden death overtimes also ended scoreless, top-seeded Burley (15-2-1) made its first three kicks in the shootout and #2-seeded Wood River (10-5-1) missed its first three kicks.
Leading Bobcat scorer Eduardo Anguiano tallied Burley's lone goal in regulation at three minutes, then he made the first shootout kick. Burley keeper Michael Kelsey stopped Austin McCann, Bryce Newcomb and Bill Dankanyin in the shootout.
The Bobcats, ranked #1 in the Idahosports.com Idaho 4A power poll, advanced to play Pocatello in the Great Basin Conference championship Thursday, Oct. 20 in Burley.
Burley and Wood River played evenly in the first half—Spencer Cordovano equalizing at 23 minutes on a 25-yard lobbed shot after an Austin McCann feed—but the Wolverines had chances and "won the second half," Swain said.
"It was the best I've seen us play in a long time. We hit the posts and had many, many opportunities. We just couldn't finish," she said.
Defense was paramount.
Swain said, "Our defense was awesome. Our outside backs Michael Dale and Bill Dankanyin were unbelievable. And (defensive center midfielder) Garrett Leo had a great game, too."
The memorable clash continued a long tradition of superb Wood River defense against Burley soccer teams.
The two teams have played 20 times over 11 seasons—and 14 games have been settled by two goals or less. Wood River's traditionally strong defense has never allowed Burley to score more than two goals in a single game. Wood River is now 11-6-3 all-time against Burley.
But Burley is now headed to the State 4A soccer tourney Oct. 27-29 at Capital Soccer Complex in west Boise, and Wood River has to take the tough back-door route for the second straight year if the Wolverines hope to join Burley at the eight-team tournament.
Wood River will need to play and win three games in five days to earn a state tournament trip for the ninth consecutive year, and for the 18th time since the school first sanctioned soccer back in 1986.
After losing 1-0 in double OT to Burley in last year's title game, the Wolverines accomplished that tough task with 6-0, 2-0 and 3-1 wins over Minico, Preston and Bonneville.
Swain said, "Most of the players have been there before, so they know it can be done. We'll just have to roll with the punches, play our best and give it everything we have."
Leo's long shot a winner
The back-door route started Tuesday with a rematch against Minico at Hailey's South Valley Sports Complex. Third-seeded Minico (5-13-2) stayed alive with a 2-1 home win over #4-seeded Jerome (2-12-1) Monday afternoon.
Wood River players knew Minico would be a tough opponent, judging by Saturday's terrific Homer Field nightcap won by the Wolverines 3-2 on Garrett Leo's 47-yard direct kick with one minute left.
Minico, 5-1 and 2-1 losers to Wood River during the season, came out smoking in the second half after falling behind 2-0 at half on goals by Austin McCann and Carl Jablonski (a team-leading 10 goals season).
"We had nothing to lose and played a great second half," said Minico coach Dennis Haynes. The Spartans scored at 43 minutes on a Colton Douglass header off a Mark Lloyd corner kick. Dallas Garner equalized 2-2 with a deflected shot at 49 minutes.
The rest of the second half featured enormous pressure by Wood River (9-2 advantage in corner kicks). The Wolverines outshot the Spartans 12-5 after half and 20-10 for the game. Minico keeper Josh Lloyd (15 saves) and Wood River keeper Jesse Stark (11 saves) excelled.
Only a minute remained when a foul on McCann gave Leo a direct kick just inside the football field's midfield stripe. Leo ripped a fierce line drive that took a dive just as Josh Lloyd went for the save, and the ball went into the net. Minico argued unsuccessfully for an offsides call on the game-winning play.
"We played so hard and so well, it was tough to lose in that manner," said coach Haynes.
If Wood River beat Minico for the fourth time Tuesday, the Wolverines will travel to Burley Thursday, Oct. 20 for a intra-district playoff game against Century or Preston. The winner of that game will compete Saturday, Oct. 22 at 2:30 p.m. at Highland High School in Pocatello against the Sixth District runner-up team.
So, the best Wood River can hope for is a first-round State 4A match-up against the Boise-area champion Oct. 27. That will probably be #2-ranked Nampa or #3-ranked Skyview, based on the result of their championship game Thursday.