Winners of the third-place trophy, the Wood River boys pose one final time at last weekend’s State 4A tournament at Idaho Falls Soccer Complex.
Those watching Friday’s State 4A boys’ soccer tournament semi-final between the Wood River Wolverines and Sandpoint Bulldogs might have come away thinking they had just watched the two best defensive teams in the eight-team meet at Idaho Falls.
It was a stare-you-down chess match, scoreless at half, with good shots priced at a premium. Wood River was southern Idaho’s best defensive squad, and Sandpoint the best from the north. But Sandpoint was just a little better on defense for the day, getting Wood River to blink. Twice.
Sandpoint (14-5-2) scored on a Jeremiah Gagnon header at 51 minutes and broke behind the staunch Wolverine defense for a Anthony Fox breakaway at 65 minutes for the 2-0 victory that eliminated Wood River from championship contention.
Wood River (14-2-4) regrouped for a 2-1 triumph over the Middleton Vikings Saturday to earn the third-place trophy. Junior Stephen Pfeiffer and senior Trevor Brand (penalty kick) enabled the Wolverines to finish an excellent season with a victory.
It was the eighth one-goal outcome of the season for coach Luis Monjaras’ Wolverines, who went 7-1 in those close games and also finished with 13 shutouts in 20 games including a pair of 0-0 early-season ties.
Sandpoint earned its eighth State 4A championship in 13 years with a 3-2 win over Boise-area champion Skyview of Nampa (18-2-2) in Saturday’s title game. Gagnon, a junior whose header was decisive against Wood River, also tallied the game winner against Skyview on a 69th-minute direct kick for his second goal.
It was the first state title for Sandpoint boys’ coach Adam Tajan, who coached the Bulldog girls to four state championships in nine years before taking over the boys’ team in 2010.
The 2011 state champion Blackfoot Broncos (15-2-1) bounced back from its opening-round 1-0 loss to Wood River on Thursday and won the consolation title 1-1 (4-2 penalty kicks) over Great Basin Conference champ Jerome (11-3-6).
Wood River, which won the State 4A consolation title under coach Monjaras (47-20-10 in 4 years) in 2010 at Lake City, earned its highest-ever placing at the 4A tournament with the third-place trophy.
The Wolverines compiled their best overall record since a three-year string from 1998-2000 when Wood River was 10-2-3, 13-1-3 and 16-2-0 including two state titles and one state second-place finish 12 years ago.
( Final team statistics: Wood River 14-2-4 (7-0-1 home, 7-2-3 away, 9-0-1 league for #1 seed, 2th place in GBC tournament and 3rd place in State 4A tournament) with 13 shutouts in 20 games. Goals scored: 35 (1.8 per game). Goals against: 11 (0.6). Individual scoring: Alex Lopez 9 (7 game winners), Andrew Graves 5, Zack Freeman 3, Stephen Pfeiffer 3, Trevor Brand 3, Zac Miczulski 2, Drew Morse 2, Liam Jablonski 1, Alberto Salinas 1, Guillermo Velasco 1, Eron Bates 1, Sage Kelly 1, Keegan Heneghan 1, Desmond Porth 1, Heriberto Mendoza 1.