Wood River’s 2-0 semi-final loss to the defending State 4A tournament champion Jerome boys on Saturday in Twin Falls put coach Luis Monjaras’ Wolverines into the loser bracket of the Great Basin Conference boys’ soccer tourney.
It meant the No. 4-seeded Wolverines (7-9-0) needed to win three games this week for a return to the State 4A tournament. That stretch started Tuesday with a loser-out home game against No. 5 Burley (5-10-0) on the Hailey pitch.
Last Thursday, Wood River beat Burley for the first time this season 2-1 (OT) on an “Olimpico goal” by junior Danny Graves in the final seconds of the first 10-minute overtime period. Sophomore Clay Cutler tallied the other Hailey goal.
The winner of Tuesday’s Wood River-Burley game advanced to play No. 3-seeded Twin Falls (7-9-2) today, Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. at SunWay in Twin Falls.
That winner will move on to a state play-in game Saturday, Oct. 18 for another state ticket.
Jerome (13-1-0) hosts No. 2-seeded Canyon Ridge (15-2-0) Thursday, Oct. 16 at 4:30 p.m. in the GBC championship game. Canyon Ridge earned its first-ever state tournament trip with a 3-2 overtime win over Twin Falls Saturday.
The Jerome Tigers will be shooting for their third consecutive Great Basin tournament title and sixth in eight years.
Exciting first-round game with Burley
Wood River earned its slot opposite Jerome in Saturday’s semi-final game by beating Burley 2-1 at the very end of the first of two 10-minute overtime periods Thursday at Hailey’s South Valley Sports Complex soccer field.
Graves curled in a corner kick for a golden goal with just six seconds left in the first OT session to nail down Wood River’s first win in three tries against Burley.
The Wolverine scored first on a goal by Cutler in the 33rd minute, on a pass by junior Yuri McClure. The scoring play originated on a build-up from freshman Taylor Koth to sophomore Alex Leon.
Burley, out-shot by Wood River 10-5 after half, nevertheless equalized 1-1 with a penalty kick made by sophomore Marcos Del Toro after a Wolverine foul in the 79th minute.
Wood River sophomore defender Nathan Lambert was red-carded for inadvertently taking down Burley’s Mitchell Rice in the box on a goal-scoring opportunity to set up the penalty kick. A long through-pass from Burley junior Johnny Anguiano sent Rice behind the Hailey defense.
It meant the Wolverines had to play one man short for the final minute of regulation and through the first OT.
“Every time we play with only 10 men it seems to work in our favor. The boys tend to play it faster and more direct and we can take advantage of our speed,” said Monjaras.
The coach added, “All the boys hustled all game, from offense to defense. Playing three strikers up top from the beginning of the game seemed to work for us.”
Wood River senior goalkeeper Kyle Weller (8 saves) and Burley junior keeper Luis Valencia (10 saves, 7 after half) were stand-out players. The Wolverines finally managed to crack the sturdy Bobcat defense after scoring just one goal in two previous meetings with Burley this season.
Stars on defense for Wood River were first-year player Koth and sophomore sweeper Zachary Williams, who was playing his second straight game against Jerome in place of injured senior sweeper Jon Scott (hamstring).
“Zach stepped in big time, and Taylor was very solid as always,” said Monjaras. Midfielders Graves and senior Sage Kelly also created many scoring opportunities—Kelly hitting the crossbar in the 56th minute in a bid for a 2-0 cushion.