Friday, October 10, 2014

Much at stake in Thursday’s soccer doubleheader

Scenario for Great Basin tournaments

Express Staff Writer

     The 4A Great Basin Conference boys’ and girls’ soccer tournament seedings and schedules were finalized this week, with each meet starting Thursday, Oct. 9.

     Hailey’s Wood River High School hosted a doubleheader of first-round boys’ and girls’ games Thursday.

     The No. 3-seeded Wood River girls (10-4-0, 7-3-0 league) tried to improve upon their 6-1-0 home record when they entertained the No. 6-seeded Jerome Tigers (1-9) at 4:30 p.m. on the South Valley Sports Complex soccer field in Hailey.

     Wood River’s girls defeated Jerome 4-0 Tuesday in the regular-season finale on the Tiger pitch. The Wolverines routed Jerome 9-1 at home back on Sept. 18.

     Prior to that girls’ game, at 2:30 p.m. Thursday on the same field, the No. 4-seeded Wood River boys (6-8-0, 4-6 league) hosted the No. 5 Burley Bobcats (4-9-0, 3-7-0).

     The teams had played twice, Burley winning 4-1 in Hailey and 1-0 at home. Both teams entered the game with losses in Tuesday’s season finales, Wood River falling 2-1 at home to Jerome and Burley losing 4-2 at home to Twin Falls.


New scenario for making state

     Soccer fans will immediately notice that the six-team 2014 tournaments have been downsized by one game compared to last year—in large part to give the third-place teams another day of rest before meeting the Boise-area third-place team in a state play-in game Oct. 18.

     That change favors the good teams since the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds need to win only one game in order to qualify for the State 4A tournament.

     It makes it harder for teams that falter even once to make state. Lose one game Thursday or Saturday, and it’s possible you’ll need to play Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday next week to make the State 4A tournament scheduled for Oct. 23-25 in Coeur d’Alene.

     For instance, the top-seeded Twin Falls girls (13-3-0, 9-1-0) have their first game Saturday, Oct. 11 at SunWay Soccer Complex in Twin Falls. They will play the winner of Thursday’s first-round game between No. 4 Burley (7-8-0, 4-6-0) and No. 5 Minico (1-9-0).

     If the three-time defending Bruin girls beat Burley or Minico Saturday, they’ll advance directly into the Great Basin championship game Thursday, Oct. 16.

     Since both teams making the championship game automatically qualify for state, they’ll be playing for pride and state seeding in next Thursday’s title contest.

     On the downside, it means that the two championship game qualifiers will have played only two games in the 14 days between Oct. 10 and the start of the state tourney Oct. 23 in northern Idaho.

     No obstacle that schedule makers throw into their path seems to derail the defending State 4A boys’ tournament champion Jerome Tigers.

     Jerome (12-1-0, 9-1-0) carries a seven-game winning streak in which it has outscored foes 52-10 into its first-round game Saturday, Oct. 11 at noon at SunWay Complex against the winner of Thursday’s Wood River-Burley game.

     Challenges facing the Wood River boys and girls are clear.

     The girls needed to beat Jerome at home Thursday and No. 2-seeded Canyon Ridge (10-6-1, 8-2-0) on Saturday at 2 p.m. at SunWay in order to qualify for the school’s 20th consecutive state tournament trip.

     If Hailey’s girls lose to Canyon Ridge Saturday, they’ll likely have one more chance to make the state play-in game with a home loser-out game Wednesday, Oct. 15.

     Wood River’s girls have finished second to Twin Falls in the conference tournament three straight years.

     Last year, the Wolverines came through the loser bracket and claimed second place 1-0 over Canyon Ridge. The Riverhawks had lost to Twin Falls 8-0 in the district title game two days before.

     The Hailey boys needed to get past Burley for the first time this season and then upset Jerome on Saturday to make the state tournament. So far, the Wolverines have played Jerome tough, losing 2-1 Tuesday and 1-1 (5-4 shootout) at Jerome Sept. 18.

     Last year, Jerome won its second straight GBC tournament title and fifth in seven years by a 1-0 score over second-place Wood River. Then Wood River qualified for state by edging Twin Falls 1-0.

     Because Thursday’s first-round games were district competitions, Wood River High charged admission. The Wolverine regular-season soccer games had been free to spectators this fall.

     General adult admission was $5 per person. Students (K-12) were charged $2, seniors 65-and-older pay $3 and children under six were free. If you had an Idaho High School Activities Association card, you and one guest were admitted free of charge.

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