They graduated last year’s leading scorer Sloan Storey (22 goals) and were missing last year’s second-leading scorer Haley Montgomery (17 goals).
So the Wood River High School girls’ soccer team needed someone to step up and put the ball in the net during its home opener against Bonneville Saturday.
Samantha Sutton was willing to do the job.
The sophomore with a booming kick, much like Storey, drilled a goal in each half as coach Jenni Conrad’s Wolverines (1-1-0) posted their first victory of the 2012 season over the Idaho Falls visitors.
Wood River dominated, outshooting Bonneville 22-2.
Speedy junior forward Montgomery wasn’t playing because of a family function, but Wood River still assembled a relentless passing attack led by midfielder Sutton and twin seniors Miranda and Allison Gasenica. The pressure kept Bonneville in its own defensive zone for the entire first half.
Conrad said, “We moved the ball around well, kept our shape in the midfield and our defense was super compact.”
Sutton took a pass from sophomore Brigette Thomas, found an open area and drilled the first goal into the right corner from 15 yards out for a 1-0 lead at 31 minutes. Limiting the Bees to no shots in the first half were defenders Maggie Williams, Olivia Thornton, Timber Kelly and Kenya Schott.
Wood River players continued serving dangerous lead passes from the midfield to the wings in the second half and made it 2-0 when Sutton blasted a left-footed winner from just outside the box, middle of the field, on a pass from Timber Kelly at the 56-minute mark.
Senior goalkeeper Olivia Roche made a couple of solid saves to preserve the shutout.
“The foundation is there, we just need to develop it,” said Conrad.
Bonneville, like Wood River a 4A school, is part of the new six-school District 5/6 conference with Blackfoot, Preston, Century of Pocatello, Rigby and Pocatello that gets two berths in October’s state meet. The top eastern Idaho 4A teams from last year, Hillcrest and Madison, have moved to 5A.
The Wolverines are now 5-1-1 all-time against Bonneville including five shutouts in seven games and a 29-5 goals against. Bonneville (0-2-1) shows only a 1-1 draw at Madison for points this year.
On Thursday, Wood River debuted against top-ranked Idaho 5A Highland of Pocatello (3-0). Goals by Montgomery and Miranda Gasenica (header, on a pretty pass from sister Allison) gave Wood River a 2-0 first half lead, but host Highland scored the next four goals and prevailed 4-2.
“We dominated the first half until the last two minutes when Highland scored its first goal, then we lost focus in the second half,” Conrad said. “I thought we played well despite graduating players who formed the spine of our team down the middle last year. We’ll keep working on defense.”
Wood River tried for the 250th victory in its 20 seasons of girls’ soccer Tuesday at home against Burley (1-2-0), an 8-1 and 4-3 loser to American Falls along with a 2-1 home win over Declo. On Thursday, Aug. 30, the Wolverines host Canyon Ridge (0-1-0), an early 6-1 loser at Preston.
Boys play to scoreless draws
The Wood River boys, showing five shutouts last season, still haven’t allowed a goal in two games covering 160 minutes. Problem is, they haven’t scored a goal either, accounting for 0-0 draws with Highland and Bonneville (0-2-1).
On Thursday in the Hailey home opener, Wood River came out strong outshooting Highland 7-3 in the first half. “We went to a 4-3-3 in the first half instead of 4-4-2 to get some more offense and we had some great opportunities,” said assistant coach Eric Anderson.
The play tightened up after half and senior keeper Max Mauldin (8 saves) needed to make a fine stop on Highland’s Jake Denney at 58 minutes to preserve the tie. Overall the shots favored Wood River 10-6. Highland (1-0-2) came in with an easy win over Pocatello and 0-0 draw with Twin Falls.
Saturday in Idaho Falls, Anderson said, “We had better ball movement, better communication and better understanding of formations against Bonneville, which is a quality team. We outshot them, but still struggled to finish. Still, the kids were happier about how they played afterward.”
Junior Alberto Salinas and sophomore Jon Scott played really well, said Anderson, filling in for head coach Luis Monjaras (attending a wedding). Hailey sophomore goalkeeper Kyle Weller made seven saves.
Wood River (0-0-2) opened its Great Basin Conference schedule Tuesday in Hailey against reigning league champ Burley (1-1-0), a 5-0 winner at Pocatello and 2-0 home loser to Preston.
The Wolverines travel to Canyon Ridge (0-1-1) in Twin Falls Thursday, Aug. 30. Canyon Ridge lost 1-0 at home to Blackfoot along with chalking up a 3-3 tie at Preston.