"Senior Night" for 11 proud seniors and their parents was a happy occasion for the Wood River High School boys' varsity soccer team Wednesday evening at South Valley Sports Complex soccer field in Hailey.
Wood River, playing a man down because of a red card violation, benefited from an "own goal" with three minutes left to beat the Minico Spartans 2-1 and avenge a 3-1 Great Basin Conference loss to Minico at Rupert way back on Aug. 26.
A crossing pass from the right wing by junior Nathan Moses deflected off a Minico defender and into the net at 77 minutes for the winning goal.
Earlier, after a 0-0 halftime tie, senior Charlie Evans (a team-high 6 goals) one-timed a long throw-in by senior Harlan Collins for the game's first goal at 52 minutes. It was Wood River's first score in 165 minutes dating back to its 2-0 home win over Burley last Thursday.
Minico senior captain Omar Rojas equalized at 62 minutes to finish a Spartan attack, then senior Benito Reveles drew the red card at 68 minutes leaving Hailey a player short for the final 12 minutes of the game.
It seemed like a tie was the best the Wolverines could settle for. But the Hailey defense kept pushing the ball, Zack Freeman sending it ahead to Collins near the midfield stripe—and Collins launching a backwards flick-back kick putting Minico's defense on its heels.
"We weren't aiming for a tie. And Nathan put a perfect cross that bounced off their defender," said second-year Wood River coach Luis Monjaras.
Monjaras added, "We needed the win to secure the second seed in the tournament. I was impressed with our senior class. Everyone stepped it up. I feel both teams played hard, but I also feel we outplayed Minico in both halves."
Wood River out-shot Minico 8-3 in the first half and 9-7 after intermission for a 17-10 edge, with a clear 8-1 advantage in corner kicks. Goalkeeper Dylan Carey made six saves.
The Wolverines created many good opportunities, just as they had Tuesday in a 3-0 league loss at Twin Falls. That GBC clash was scoreless until the 71st minute, when former Wolverine Chris DeLaCruz buried a bad bounce ball and Nate Goss added a penalty kick.
Monjaras said, "We were very flat and didn't play our game at Twin. The midfield was confused and we had no offensive attack. Our defense was very solid. But the boys let down in the last 10 minutes."
Wood River (7-5-1, 6-3-1 league) finished with a 6-1-0 home record but, as second seed, will still have to play in Twin Falls Saturday, Oct. 9 against the winner of the first-round Great Basin tournament game between the third-seed and the sixth-seed, according to athletic director John Rade.
Regular-season league champion Jerome (11-1-3, 6-1-2) finished up at Canyon Ridge (2-10-2, 0-6-2) on Thursday. The third seed is up in the air between Twin Falls (5-5-3, 3-4-1), Burley (6-2-5, 2-1-5) and Minico (7-7-1, 3-5-1). Burley hosted Twin Falls Thursday and goes to Minico Tuesday, Oct. 5.
The Wolverines travel to Pocatello for a season-ending game against Century (6-4-2) Saturday, Oct. 2 at 12 noon. Century won the first meeting 2-1 Sept. 18 in Hailey.
Monjaras said, "In the past this final non-conference game has been difficult for us and we've had injuries. I'll ask my starters to give me a good 20 minutes and we'll play everybody Saturday. We're lucky to have a lot of players, but we need to get the roster down to 23 players for district."