Nobody gave the Wood River High School boys' varsity soccer team much of a chance Tuesday when coach Matt Phillips' Wolverines traveled to Burley for a 4A Great Basin Conference West challenge.
Burley under coach Wes Nyblade has been "the man" in the Great Basin since 2004—winning league titles from 2004-06, going 23-2 in league play from 2005-07 and winning trophies for either third place or consolation at the state tournament for five straight years.
Wood River teams had lost seven straight games to Burley, and nine of the last 10. But that all changed Tuesday afternoon.
Nobody thought Wood River could beat Burley except the players themselves—coming off a season-changing and confidence-lifting 2-1 road win over McCall Saturday. Phillips said, "On the bus going down, the boys kept saying they were going to go out and beat Burley."
And they did, 2-1, as Wolverine scoring leader Austin Cruz (6 goals) slotted home a right-to-left cross from Bryan Donoso as the seventh minute approached in the eight-minute stoppage time ticked off at the end of the second half.
"It feels good. It feels incredible," said Phillips.
Wood River, trailing 1-0, had equalized midway through the second half when senior John Leavell scored his first goal on a cross pass from junior captain Morgan Pike. Burley outshot Wood River 15-8, but junior goalkeeper Colter Brehmer (6 saves) was outstanding.
Phillips said, "This game was a testament to Colter—his growing, maturing and leading the defense. He made incredible saves and good decisions. Our defense held together when Burley put on pressure."
Hearing the referee say there were eight minutes of stoppage time in the 1-1 tie energized both teams, Phillips said. "Burley had at least eight incredible chances in stoppage time and we had five. Pike hit the crossbar. Donoso hit the right post. We were hitting wood like you couldn't believe. It was pretty intense," he said.
The Wood River boys (4-5-0, 1-2-0 league) left with a league tie with Burley (5-4-1, 1-2-0). Top-ranked Jerome (7-0-1, 3-0-0) nipped #3-ranked Minico (6-3-1, 1-2-0) by a 4-3 score in Jerome.
Saturday, Wood River will try to sweep the season series with Highland in Pocatello. The Wolverines won 2-0 for their first win of the season Aug. 26. Next Tuesday, Wood River entertains Minico in Hailey—the new starting time at 4 p.m.
Hailey girls rout Burley 9-0
Winning their seventh straight game, coach Greg Gvozdas' Wolverine girls (8-1-0, 3-0-0 league) routed the visiting Burley Bobcats (0-9-1, 0-2-1) by a 9-0 score Tuesday in a Great Basin West game at South Valley Sports Complex in Hailey.
It was all Wood River, outshooting Burley 46-1 with a 20-0 edge in corner kicks. Burley goalkeeper Emily Sansom (21 saves) was busy all afternoon.
Scoring were Tanner Dredge with four (19 season), Bailey Ireland, Aimee Evans, Sam Johnson and, with their first goals of the season, Morgan Brimstein and Laura Elgee. Credited with assists were KT Martinez, Ashley Hesteness, Ellen Davis and Madison Gove.
Two other big 4A games were played Tuesday. Reigning State 4A champion Bishop Kelly of Boise (8-0-0) defeated arch rival Skyview of Nampa (8-2-0) by a 4-3 score. Returning state third-place Century of Pocatello (5-0-2) tied 0-0 with Highland of Pocatello (6-0-2).
Saturday, Wood River will host the #3-ranked 5A Highland Rams at 11 a.m. on the Hailey pitch. Highland nipped Wood River 1-0 in Pocatello Aug. 26, so the Hailey girls will be looking for some payback against a Rams program that lost only two games, both at state, during its 15-2-4 season last fall.