Wednesday, November 2, 2005

WR boys savor 1-0 state victory over Emmett

One-goal games culminate state soccer visit

Wood River senior striker Austin McCann (right) gets a step on Emmett junior defender Kyle Blaser in Friday's state game won by the Wolverines 1-0. McCann ended his two-and-a-half season Wood River Valley soccer career (as a freshman 12 goals with The Community School, as a WRHS junior 21) with 39 goals including singles against Skyview and Nampa at state last weekend. Photo by David N. Seelig

You always want to be playing your best soccer at the end of the season, and that's exactly what the Wood River High School boys' soccer team was doing in a two-week, eight-game stretch culminating in last weekend's State 4A tournament.

Over those 14 days, Wood River played eight very tough games and came together as a team—playing great defensively and fine-tuning the ball-possession offense that coach Farrell Swain wanted the Wolverines to improve over the 22-game season.

The State 4A tournament Thursday through Saturday at Capital Soccer Complex in west Boise wasn't Wood River's shining moment. But the Wolverines (14-7-1) did capture their first-ever state tournament win at the 4A level and played hard all the way to the final whistle.

Starting off Thursday with a very physical 6-1 loss to eventual state champion Skyview of Nampa (16-1-3), Wood River blanked Emmett by a 1-0 score Friday then led for the most of the game Saturday against Nampa (18-3-1) before falling 2-1 in the consolation championship game.

"We've been playing so well at the end of the season—possessing in the midfield and getting it out to the flanks," said Swain after the Nampa loss. "I think we played our best in the first half against an outstanding Nampa team that was ranked #1 for most of the year. We pressed, attacked, made opportunities and got on the scoreboard. That's a big deal."

Senior Austin McCann scored Wood River's only goal against Nampa at two minutes. He intercepted a Nampa clearing pass, served it to Carl Jablonski and then cleaned up after a Jablonski shot. Defensively Wood River continued to excel.

"Cory (sweeper Rutkowski) had one of his best games, hands down," said Swain. "And Bill (back Dankanyin) really stepped it up."

McCann added, "Today everything came together. We possessed well, made good runs and were smart about everything. We weren't really expected to do well at state, but we showed a lot of heart and played the best we've played all season."

Wood River also scored early Friday against Emmett. Co-captain Bryce Newcomb crossed the ball from the right into the box where Jablonski tallied his team-leading 13th goal only two minutes into the 80-minute game. It was the game winner, thanks to an amazing save by goalkeeper Jesse Stark on Huskies senior Huge Campos at 20 minutes.

"Jesse made a great save and our defense kept us in it," said Swain. "We played the whole game and pushed it all the way. It was a very physical game, just like our game against Skyview (on Thursday)."

Newcomb said, "The loss against Skyview was a hard one, but we definitely took it to Emmett. We had to come back strong and we did. We played our game."

Final WR boys' stats: 14-7-1 overall record (6-1 home, 8-6-1 away); second place Great Basin Conference West, third place Great Basin Conference, 1-2 state. Offense: 50 goals including shootout penalty kicks. Defense: 35 goals.

Individual scoring: Carl Jablonski 13 goals, Spencer Cordovano 7, Austin McCann 6, Travis Amick 6, Spencer Flade 5, Garrett Leo 5, Bryce Newcomb 3, Bill Dankanyin 3, Michael Dale 1, Joey Stevenson 1. Two-year scoring: McCann 27 goals (tied with Tate Mills at #9 on the all-time career list), Jablonski 24, Cordovano 14.

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