The rematch of last October's State 4A boys' soccer tournament consolation game at Post Falls won by Wood River 1-0 over Burley lived up to its expectations Saturday on the Hailey soccer field.
Reigning Great Basin Conference champion Wood River (3-3-0, 3-2-0 league) rallied from a 1-0 halftime deficit with two scores in the first eight minutes of the second half and held on to beat Burley 2-1 and thus keep pace with GBC leader Minico.
It was a big win for Wood River in its longest and fiercest soccer rivalry. Wolverine teams are now unbeaten in their last five meetings with Burley and own a 17-15-4 advantage in the 36-game series dating back to 1994.
Sophomore Zac Miczulski equalized for Wood River three minutes into the second half on a play started in the defensive zone by the aggressive play of junior Zack Freeman. Freeman barged in and dislodged the ball from two Burley attackers and quickly started the counterattack.
As the late morning breeze freshened at their backs, Wood River continued to press the action. Junior forward Alex Lopez, who assisted on Miczulski's goal, buried the eventual game winner on a long clearing pass from junior defender Trevor Brand eight minutes into the second half.
Wood River senior goalkeeper Dylan Carey (6 saves) fisted a frightening free kick by Burley junior striker Brandon Castaneda over the net to preserve the lead at 51 minutes.
Then, in a five-minute span around the middle of the second period, the officials nullified two apparent goals by Burley. The first was a Zach Searle header (offsides call) on a Castaneda direct kick. The second was a blistering Castaneda indirect kick that found the net, but wasn't touched by any other Bobcat player before Castaneda pulled the trigger.
Indeed, Burley had a slew of free kick chances in a physical second half during which 16 fouls resulting in direct kicks were whistled on Wood River players. In contrast, Wood River was awarded only three free kicks. For the game, Burley had a 21-6 advantage in free kicks, 2-0 on corners and Wood River players drew seven yellow cards compared to Burley's two.
Anchoring Hailey's defense were Freeman, Brand, Nathan Moses and Jeffrey Espejo.
Wood River coach Luis Monjaras said, "The standings in our league are very tight and whoever wins the game will usually be the team that wants it more. Toward the middle of the first half, we started to push and push and bring two or three guys. We didn't panic down 1-0 and we controlled the game—starting from the back, where our defense was solid."
The two teams will meet again Sept. 21 in Burley. Meanwhile, Burley (3-4-0, 2-2-0) bounced back Monday beating Twin Falls (0-5-2, 0-3-1) by a score of 4-0. And league-leading Minico (6-2-1, 3-0-1) bounced back from its 3-0 loss to Preston Saturday with a 4-1 victory over Pocatello. Wood River hosts Jerome today in Hailey.
Wolverines blank Highland 3-0
The Wood River boys (4-3-0, 3-2-0 league) made it four straight wins including three shutouts with Monday's 3-0 triumph over Highland in windy and rainy Pocatello.
Monjaras said, "It felt good to win a game on the road. We out-played them from the get-go and capitalized on our first two opportunities. We rested many of our players for Wednesday's game with Jerome."
Miczulski stayed hot with a goal in the 13th minute, from Stephen Pfeiffer, and Freeman assisted Miczulski's second goal, in the 17th minute. In the second half, Cole Caminiti closed the scoring with his first goal, assisted by Trevor Brand.