Wood River High School boys dug themselves a 1-0 hole just four minutes into Thursday’s Great Basin Conference home soccer game with the Minico Spartans at Hailey’s South Valley Sports Complex.
But the Wolverines of coach Luis Monjaras steadied themselves, started controlling the midfield and got two outstanding goals from junior Andrew Graves and senior Alex Lopez to rally past Minico 2-1 and slide ahead of Jerome into first place in the competitive GBC.
Wood River (3-0-3, 3-0-1 league) collected an important three points and improved to 10 points in league play, two more than Jerome (4-0-3, 2-0-2), which tied 1-1 and settled for just one point at Burley Thursday.
The Wolverines remained unbeaten in six games, despite scoring only nine goals—four coming from Lopez including three game winners. Minico (3-3-1, 2-2-0) saw its two-game winning streak come to an end.
Monjaras said, “From now on we want to keep our record and push our guys to be as perfect as we can be. Our goal is to go to the state tournament and come out with a better result than we did two years ago.”
Thursday, Wood River faced off against a “young Minico squad that is really talented and always a challenge for us,” the coach said.
He wasn’t happy about his team’s knack of starting slowly in the first half. “It’s been happening too much, our midfielders can’t control the first touch and other teams counterattack,” Monjaras said.
Minico sophomore forward Geovanni Saldana scored a breakaway goal on a perfect lead pass from senior Hector Cabrera for a 1-0 Spartan lead. Minico’s defense led by the quickness of sweeper Enochk Coats kept Wood River from getting any shots on goal.
That changed at 23 minutes after Coats fouled Wood River senior defender Trevor Brand near midfield.
Brand cranked a free kick into the box where Lopez, his back to the net, was covered well by two Spartans. Lopez steered the ball back out to Graves, stationed just outside the box. Graves one-timed a pretty shot high into the net—Wood River’s first shot on goal.
“Andrew has been playing real solid soccer and has a great shot,” Monjaras said.
Trying to juice up his offense after half, with the game tied 1-1, Monjaras moved Brand from defense to forward.
Monjaras said, “Trevor is really motivated so we pushed him up and changed to a 4-4-2 with him and Alex creating things for us up front. Trevor has a great touch and it made a difference in the game.”
Wood River out-shot Minico 5-1 after half, with a 5-0 edge in corner kicks. Juniors Stephen Pfeiffer and Zac Miczulski picked up the attack with aggressive attacks from midfield and wing. The defense held strong with juniors Miguel Velasco, Eron Bates, Alberto Salinas and Chase Hutchinson.
At 69 minutes, senior Guillermo Velasco caught Minico napping along the right flank and pushed the ball ahead to Lopez, who beat two defenders on a drive to the net and tapped the winner home. Guillermo had just come off the bench for fresh legs to help Wood River keep up its relentless pressure.
“Once we had control of the midfield, we could go with anyone to maintain the pressure—and keep it simple soccer,” said Monjaras. “Alex has great foot skills and speed. He’s more composed this year and better able to read the field, so he’s scoring better for us this year.”
Wood River completed its first turn around the six-school league Tuesday with a home game against Twin Falls (1-5-2, 0-3-1) on the Hailey pitch.
Twin Falls has been a struggling side unable to score in its last four games while yielding 13 goals including last week’s 5-0 losses to Canyon Ridge and Century. But Twin did hold Burley to a 0-0 home tie Sept. 4.
On Thursday, Wood River travels to reigning league champion Burley (2-2-2, 1-1-2 league) and then goes to Highland of Pocatello Saturday. Canyon Ridge arrives in Hailey Tuesday, Sept. 18 to start a three-game league homestand during Wood River’s 2012 Homecoming Week of events.
Girls blank Minico 8-0
Wood River’s girls tuned up for their Tuesday showdown against Twin Falls with an 8-0 GBC road victory over the Minico Spartans Thursday in Rupert. It was Wood River’s fifth straight shutout triumph.
Allison Gasenica and Haley Montgomery each tallied three-goal hat tricks to go with single scores by Lucy Brannon and Samantha Sutton. The Wolverines led 2-0 at halftime over Minico (0-6-2, 0-3-1 league).
Coach Jenni Conrad’s Hailey girls (5-1-0, 4-0-0) clashed Tuesday with reigning GBC tournament champ Twin Falls (7-1-0, 4-0-0) at SunWay Soccer Complex in Twin Falls. Twin Falls entered the game off a Saturday home win over Century of Pocatello (4-3-1) by a 2-1 score, sweeping the season series with the Diamondbacks.
Wood River hosts Burley (1-5-1, 0-3-1) Thursday, Sept. 13 and entertains the 5A Highland Rams of Pocatello (6-0-1) Saturday, Sept. 15 at 11 a.m. on the Hailey pitch. Highland defeated visiting Wood River 4-2 Aug. 23 and has tied Century 1-1.
Home games await Cutthroat soccer teams
Having played only one home soccer game to date, Community School soccer teams are looking forward to a stretch of five home games in their last seven games leading up to the High Desert Soccer Conference tournament Oct. 6.
The Cutthroat girls and boys host the Buhl Tribe today, Wednesday at the Sagewillow Farms soccer complex, then go to Filer Thursday and Canyon Ridge in Twin Falls Saturday. They will be home after that, starting with Declo on Monday.
On Monday, coach Kelly Feldman’s Cutthroat girls (5-2-1, 5-0-1 for 16 points league) remained atop the HDSC with a 5-0 road win at Wendell. Keeping the Cutthroats unbeaten in their last five games were two goals by Ellie Swanson plus singles by Hannah Dies, Lilly Jenner and Hayley Murach.
Dies and Autumn Fluetsch each assisted as the Cutthroats stayed ahead of second-place Bliss (4-0-2 league, 14 points). Bliss defeated host Buhl (0-8-1, 0-5-1) by a 6-2 score on Monday.
Coach Richard Whitelaw’s Cutthroats boys (4-3-1, 2-3-1 league for 7 points) may have played their best game of the season Monday, but they lost 2-1 at the field of league-leading Wendell (5-1-0 league, 15 points) in the first meeting of the season between the teams.
Senior co-captain Ben Kanellitsas tallied a penalty kick in the first half for a 1-1 tie but Wendell prevailed on a second-half goal. In another result, Buhl (6-1-1, 4-1-1 league) nipped Bliss (3-3-0) by a score of 5-4.
Friday’s games at Bliss
Idle for 10 days, Community School soccer teams showed rustiness during High Desert road games against the Bliss Bears Friday in Glenns Ferry.
The Cutthroat girls rallied for a 3-3 tie with Bliss as Swanson tallied the equalizer to go with earlier goals by Jenner and Dies. Murach assisted.
Sun Valley’s boys saw their five-game unbeaten streak come to an end with a 2-1 loss to Bliss, as “Man of the Match” Cameron Jenner scored a goal.