Wood River High School head coach Luis Monjaras would be the first to say that his Wolverines didn't play well during the first half of Saturday's non-conference game against the Highland Rams.
In fact, Monjaras let his players know during a halftime pep talk that they would need to pick up the pace of their offense—after 3-0 and 3-1 road losses to Skyview and Minico to open the 2010 campaign.
They listened and performed, gaining some of the confidence Monjaras said they will need in tough tests ahead.
Wood River (1-2-0, 0-1-0 league) converted three beautiful goals in a 23-minute span of the second half to beat the winless Rams 3-0 in the first boys' home varsity game of the season at South Valley Sports Complex soccer field in Hailey.
The Wolverines out-shot Highland 17-4 with nine corner kicks, including a 11-3 edge in the second half. All three goals came after a handball in the box that gave Wood River a penalty kick three minutes into the second half—a red card infraction that resulted in Highland playing a man short.
Senior midfielder Benito Reveles one-timed a pass from soph Trevor Brand for the first goal at 57 minutes, after hustling senior Cody Levitan won a battle along the left wing and kept the ball in the Rams zone.
A lovely direct-kick serve by senior sweeper Harlan Collins from 38 yards was headed home by senior Charlie Evans at 72 minutes. Then senior Bryan Donoso passed to sophomore Alex Lopez, who made no mistake in the box at 79 minutes.
Donoso's penalty kick attempt to start the second half had been blocked by Rams sophomore keeper Cody Knudsen (13 saves). Knudsen was a star, as was Highland senior sweeper Matt Livermore.
Wood River's first-year junior keeper Dylan Carey (3 saves) wasn't tested much, but he made two fine saves on Ram junior Arte Rosales—one when the game was still scoreless and one when Hailey led only 2-0.
The Wolverine defense led by Collins, Zack Freeman, Luis Lopez and Alexander MacMillan played well, while Reveles and Spyder Turco guided the midfield crew. Coach Monjaras substituted often, trying to find the right finishing combos.
Monjaras said, "We've been controlling the ball—we out-shot Minico 15-7 and still lost 3-1—but we've had a lack of offense and are still trying to find the right people who can finish. It's a matter of understanding our roles and transitions and getting ready to play the high-speed game it takes to win."
The coach was pleased with his defense and midfield. He said Reveles has the ball skill and ability to read the field that is effective in the all-important center of the pitch. "We have versatile players and a very good mix in the back," he said.
Highland (0-3-0) left Hailey still scoreless on the season after 1-0 and 2-0 losses to Hillcrest and Burley. Meanwhile, Wood River plays a Canyon Ridge Thursday, Sept. 2 and at Burley on Tuesday, Sept. 7.
Girls handle Minico 11-0, fall at Highland 3-1
Coach Jenni Conrad's Wood River girls' varsity (2-1-0, 1-0-0 league) posted their first Great Basin Conference win 11-0 at home over Minico Thursday, then the Wolverines fell 3-1 to a strong Highland Rams side at Pocatello Saturday.
Junior midfielder Kaitana Martinez scored three goals against Minico while senior striker Jessica Martens and sophomore midfielder McKenna Chase each added a pair. Wood River built a 10-0 halftime lead and out-shot the Spartans 22-5.
Wolverine single goals came from Sloan Storey, Erin Murphy, Madison Gove and Grace Eagan. Players with assists were Martens (2), Storey, Martinez, Ellen Davis, Gove, Taylor Hayes and Eagan.
Saturday, Highland (2-1-0) caught visiting Wood River flat-footed in the first half and scored twice, the first by Abbi Olson at seven minutes. The Wolverines didn't score until 70 minutes, by Martinez on a pass from Martens. Other Ram scorers were Ariel Edwards and McKenzie Adams.
Highland was coming off a 13-2 win over Burley after losing its opener 4-2 at Hillcrest.
The Rams visited Twin Falls (3-0-0) Tuesday—Twin Falls having outscored its three foes 20-0. Wood River will visit Twin Sept. 9 after home league games against Canyon Ridge of Twin Falls Thursday, Sept. 2 and Burley on Tuesday, Sept. 7.