Wood River High School’s girls’ varsity soccer team was rudely introduced to the Great Basin Conference’s new sudden-victory shootout rule Tuesday on the Hailey pitch.
The Canyon Ridge Riverhawks and Wolverines played to a 1-1 tie after 80 minutes of regulation play, and tied 3-3 in the five-player alternating shot format of shooting penalties that the league has used in 2013 and 2014 to resolve ties.
Last season, a league game ending in a tie after the five-player shootout remained a tie. It was immediately ended, each team earning one point for a tie instead of assigning three points to the winning team.
The league decided this season to use a new sudden-victory format to settle conference games in which the five-player shootout ends in a tie.
That’s what happened Tuesday. Canyon Ridge freshman Caitlin Crist made her shot and Wood River freshman Emerson McCune chipped hers over the net, no good. Actually, McCune successfully made her first shot, but it was nullified because the whistle hadn’t been blown to start the play.
It was a confusing and, for Wood River, an unsatisfying way to end a tale of two halves. Wood River dominated the scoreless first half but couldn’t score. Canyon Ridge took heart and was the more aggressive team after the half.
What the outcome produced was a three-way tie atop the GBC standings between 2013 GBC runner-up Wood River, three-time defending league champion Twin Falls and last year’s GBC third-place finisher Canyon Ridge.
Canyon Ridge, loser of an identical 1-1 (4-3) shootout to Twin Falls Sept. 4, improved to 4-5-1 (3-1-0 league) with only three seniors. With nine seniors, Wood River (6-2-0, 3-1-0) saw its six-game winning streak end with a sluggish effort. Twin Falls (6-3-0, 3-1-0) whipped Jerome 13-0 Tuesday.
The good news for Wood River was the return of injured scoring ace Jesse Cole, still slowed with a calf injury, and Brigette Thomas (ankle). Not-so-good was the Wolverine inability to crack the packed-in ‘Hawks defense despite a 9-1 shots edge in the first half.
Whether it was heat, Homecoming or a breeze favoring the ‘Hawks after intermission, the second-half Wolverines were slower to the ball.
Hailey coach Doug Stouffer said, “Playing ‘not bad’ wasn’t going to be good enough to give us a win for the match.”
The ‘Hawks slipped through defensive cracks several times. Hailey goalkeeper Molly Whittington (3 saves) denied Jade Higley’s solid chance in the 43rd minute. Wood River defender Timber Kelly cleared out an open-net try in the 50th.
Two rapid-fire Riverhawks’ corner kicks followed by a free kick turned out to be too much excitement for Wood River to absorb, and Canyon Ridge sophomore Clarissa Henderson lofted a direct kick goal in the 74th minute for a 1-0 lead.
That and the ticking clock got Wood River’s attention.
Hailey’s girls picked up the pace against the Riverhawks defense of sophomore Valencia Smith, soph Jealsy Simons, senior Kennedy Stenger, senior Kimiko Shigihara and sophomore goalkeeper Alexis Dewalt (12 saves).
Just before time, in the 80th minute, senior Tate Morell passed ahead to senior Olivia Thornton, who sent Jesse Cole in alone for a 1-1 tie.
It was a relief for Wood River faithful, who had seen the ‘Hawks turn the tide with a 10-1 second-half edge in winning free kicks and corner kicks.
Wood River lost its first-ever GBC league shootout despite ‘Hawks keeper Dewalt not making a single save.
The Wolverines hit the post (Jesse Cole) and blasted shots over the net (Timber Kelly and McCune). In contrast, keeper Whittington calmly saved two of the six ‘Hawks shots.
Canyon Ridge shootout scorers besides game winner Crist were freshman Ashley Conrad, senior Courtney Stenger and soph Caitlin Trammel. Thornton made Wood River’s first shot, Samantha Sutton drilled the fourth and Rory Cole took a deep breath before burying the game-tying fifth.
Wood River’s advantage fell to 12-2-0 in the six-year rivalry. The teams meet again Oct. 2 in Twin Falls at which point league supremacy and seeding may still be up for grabs.
NOTES: Wood River’s girls have only played one other shootout game, winning 0-0 (5-4 kicks) over Century of Pocatello Oct. 23, 2009 in a consolation game of the State 4A tournament in Caldwell. Making the Wolverine kicks were Tanner Dredge, Megan Morrell, Erin Murphy, Teagen Palmer and Shaylee Foley (game winner)…..The Wood River boys had two shootout games in 2013, both ending in ties in Hailey. They were 1-1 (3-3) with Canyon Ridge and 3-3 (2-2) with Twin Falls……The Idaho High School Activities Association rule for district, state or state play-in games that end in ties after 80 minutes is different from the Great Basin Conference rule in one important way. That is, two 10-minute sudden death overtime periods are played before the kicks are taken. In contrast, the GBC goes directly to kicks without the overtime periods.