Facing the prospect of one game and done, the Wood River High School boys’ soccer team responded Tuesday with a 1-0 home win over the upset-minded Burley Bobcats in a Great Basin Conference tourney knockout game in Hailey.
Wolverine senior Liam Jablonski, having just stepped onto the field, dribbled through three Burley defenders and drilled the eventual game winner into the corner of the net at 19 minutes for his first goal of an injury-plagued season.
The Wood River defense, led by seniors Trevor Brand and Zack Freeman, did the rest in front of junior goalkeeper Max Mauldin (5 saves). Wood River withstood a couple of dangerous threats and out-shot Burley 11-6 after half, 16-9 for the game.
Wood River (11-1-4), seeded first in the six-team tourney but an upset loser to Minico 2-1 Saturday, stayed alive with its 11th shutout in 16 games. No. 5-seeded Burley (5-11-3), the defending GBC king, went home despite 14 saves by senior keeper Trevin Whitehead.
Hailey coach Luis Monjaras said, “After our big loss [to Minico], we weren’t ready to go down easily, so we took what we were doing very seriously.”
Sophomore Jon Scott along with juniors Eron Bates and Stephen Pfeiffer did an excellent job of support in the midfield while Monjaras mixed it up with his forwards in front. Burley countered with three strikers instead of two in the second half, and more physicality (5 yellow cards, 1 red card), but Wood River kept its head.
Also Tuesday, No. 2-seeded Jerome (10-1-6) won its fourth GBC tourney title in six years 2-1 in overtime over Minico. It meant Wood River traveled to No. 4 Minico (7-8-3) Thursday to determine the league’s other ticket to the State 4A tournament Oct. 18-20 in Idaho Falls.
Thursday’s knockout game occurred exactly one year after Minico ended Wood River’s season with a 3-2 penalty kick shootout win on the same field. The Wolverines were hoping to avoid the same fate while landing the program’s 20th state tournament trip in 26 seasons.
Jablonski was tagged with his fifth yellow card Tuesday and had to sit out Thursday’s game. Monjaras was hoping that Scott (concussion) and Bates (back) would be able to play in the fourth game of the season against Minico—Wood River having won the first two.
Twin Falls blanks Hailey girls 2-0
Sparked by a ferocious defense that has held opponents to just eight goals in 18 games, the Twin Falls Bruins (16-2-0) earned their second straight GBC tournament title 2-0 Tuesday over Wood River’s girls.
No. 2-seeded Wood River (10-6-0) needed to win Thursday’s GBC second-place game against No. 4-seeded Jerome (9-9-1) on the Hailey pitch to earn its 18th straight trip to the state soccer tournament. The Wolverines beat Jerome 7-0 on their home field Sept. 4, but nipped the host Tigers 2-1 on Sept. 20.
If Wood River beat Jerome on Thursday, coach Jenni Conrad’s Wolverines will open the State 4A tournament Thursday, Oct. 18, at 11 a.m. in Idaho Falls against the eastern Idaho champion. Twin Falls draws either Caldwell or Middleton for its first state game.