Getting red hot at the right time, the Wood River High School girls' varsity soccer team will be looking for its fifth consecutive Great Basin Conference West tournament championship this week in Hailey.
Top-seeded Wood River (8-3-1, 6-0-0 league), winner of seven straight games entering the upcoming four-school Great Basin tourney, will entertain the #4-seeded Minico Spartans (4-12-2, 1-5-0 league) Thursday, Oct. 4 at 5 p.m. at South Valley Sports Complex field, Hailey.
Last Saturday Wood River tuned up for its meeting with Minico by blasting the visiting Spartans 11-0 on "Senior Night" on the Hailey pitch. The Wolverines have outscored opponents 46-7 in their winning streak and 54-18 on the season.
Coach Greg Gvozdas' Wolverines need two victories this week to qualify for the Hailey school's 13th state tournament trip in the 15 seasons that Wood River has fielded a team.
If the Wolverines beat Minico Thursday, they'll host the winner of Thursday's first-round game between #2-seeded Burley (4-7-2, 3-3-0 league) and #3 Jerome (3-10-2, 2-4-0). That second-round game in the single elimination consolation meet is set for Saturday, Oct. 6 at 11 a.m.
Another victory at home Saturday and Wood River is in. The eight-school State 4A soccer tournament is Oct. 18-20 in Pocatello. Final state seeding will be set in the regional District 4/5 playoff games Oct. 11.
The Wolverines are likely to have their biggest test before state in the Oct. 11 regional finals against defending State 4A champ Century of Pocatello (9-2-2). Currently ranked third in the state, Century lost 1-0 to Highland in Pocatello Saturday and has also has fallen 4-3 at top-ranked Hillcrest of Idaho Falls (10-1-1).
More immediately, Wood River has never had much trouble with Minico (a 21-0 series advantage and 144-3 goals against since 1995) and Saturday's "Senior Night" game in Hailey was no exception. Unfortunately senior Hannah Fuller (knee injury) had to sit out the game.
The Wolverines out-shot Minico 38-3 and 6-0 in corner kicks. Junior midfielder Makayla Cappel had a nice effort with four assists and senior goalkeeper Alisa Durkheimer (3 saves) went the whole way in the net.
Freshman forward Tanner Dredge tallied her second straight three-goal hat trick for Wood River while Delaney Fox, Madison Gove and Aimee Evans (17 goals season) had two goals apiece. Singles went to Sam Johnson and Elsa Sweek.
Cappel gave Sweek a pretty lead pass for the first goal at seven minutes and Johnson teed it up from 27 yards for a 2-0 lead at 10 minutes. Dredge passed to Fox on the right wing for the third goal at 15 minutes, and Fox followed up her first goal of the season with a 20-yard blast, 4-0.
Late goals by Evans and Dredge made it 6-0 at the half. A build-up from Cappel to Evans sent Dredge in alone for her second goal at 47 minutes, and Evans made it 8-0 in close. Cappel fed Dredge at 56 minutes for a 9-0 score. Usually a goalkeeper, freshman Gove used her body in the box to redirect a Johnson cross for a 10-0 lead, and Gove took another Cappel pass for the 11-0 final score.
All Wood River players tried in vain to help senior sweeper Michelle McMurdo score her first-ever varsity goal in the second half. A trusty sweeper, McMurdo has played four varsity seasons without scoring.
Meanwhile, first-year goalkeeper Durkheimer made a big save on a point-blank shot by Minico captain Lacy VanEvery to preserve Wood River's fifth shutout of the 12-game season midway through the first half.