It was small consolation for the previously unbeaten Wood River High School boys’ soccer team after Saturday’s surprising 2-1 Great Basin Conference tournament loss to Minico.
The GBC is so competitive that the top-seeded team entering the tournament hasn’t won in five of the last nine years. No. 1 Minico lost out in 2011 and No. 1 Jerome fell in 2010.
Wood River was the top seed this season for the first time since 2004, with its 10-0-4 record entering the six-team tournament. But No. 4 Minico (7-7-3) came to play in Saturday’s second round game at SunWay Soccer Complex in Twin Falls.
Despite being out-shot 19-9, Minico scored on two excellent rapid-fire plays in the 57th and 60th minutes for a 2-0 lead. Senior Zack Freeman scored on a header in stoppage time. The game was scoreless at halftime.
For Minico, sophomore forward Geovanni Saldana broke behind the Wood River defense on a pass from sophomore Enochk Coats for the first goal, and sophomore forward Eric Tapia picked up a loose ball and hammered a 22-yard shot into the corner of the net.
“Two great shots,” said Wood River coach Luis Monjaras “We didn’t score when we needed to in the first half. Minico got a boost of energy from that and took advantage.”
Minico’s sudden goals snapped a five-game, 430-minute scoreless streak by the staunch Wood River defense (10 shutouts in 15 games). Last fall, the Spartan spoilers ended the 2011 Wolverine season a game shy of the state tournament.
Saturday’s loss ended Wood River’s quest for a second GBC tournament title in three years, but it didn’t end the Wolverine quest for one of two GBC berths in the State 4A tournament set for Oct. 18-20 in Idaho Falls.
Wood River (10-1-4) played the No. 5-seeded defending GBC champion Burley (5-10-3) Tuesday in a loser-out game at South Valley Sports Complex in Hailey. The winner of that game stayed alive to play again on Thursday, Oct. 11 for the league’s second state ticket.
Burley eliminated No. 3 Canyon Ridge (6-7-4) 3-2 in overtime Monday afternoon.
Monjaras said after Saturday’s loss, “There is no reason to put our heads down. We’ll just have to go in (to state) the hard way. We learned that you can’t go into any game too comfortable if you’re No. 1 or undefeated. I think that took hold of the boys a little with Minico.
“Everybody played well. But our lack of scoring in the first half kept Minico in the game.”
Indeed, Minico sophomore goalkeeper Juan Rodriguez (8 saves) made four stops in the first half when Wood River manufactured a slew of rushes and decent scoring chances. Many of the shots sailed wide.
Wood River has profited from set plays all season, but the first corner kick of the game didn’t come until the 68th minute, with Hailey behind 2-0.
Tuesday’s GBC title game featured No. 2 Jerome (9-1-6) and Minico—the Spartans seeking their first GBC crown. The loser of that game plays the winner of Wood River-Burley Thursday, Oct. 11 at 4:30 p.m.
If 2007-09 league champ Jerome beat Minico Tuesday and Wood River eliminated Burley, the Wolverines will have to travel to Rupert Thursday for the second-place game. If Minico beat Jerome, Wood River hosts Jerome Thursday.