They play all season to earn the top seed in the 4A Great Basin Conference prep boys’ soccer tournament. Judging by history, you’ve got to wonder if the top seed is worth the struggle in the highly competitive six-team soccer league.
Saturday’s GBC tournament results from a full day of exciting action at SunWay Soccer Complex in Twin Falls was another blow in the top-seed armor. For the fourth straight year, the top seed in the Great Basin was stung by an upset.
Coach Luis Monjaras’ No. 4-seeded Wood River Wolverines (9-2-4) got goals from senior Zac Miczulski in the 24th minute and senior Jose Ortiz on a breakaway in the 74th minute for a 2-1 upset triumph over No. 1-seeded Canyon Ridge (12-2-1).
Wood River moved into the GBC championship game Tuesday at defending GBC tournament champion Jerome (11-4-0). The Hailey-based Wolverines started their current four-game winning streak with a 3-2 win on Jerome’s football field Oct. 2.
The winner of Tuesday’s Wood River-Jerome game earned an automatic berth in the State 4A tournament Oct. 24-26 at Brothers Field in Caldwell as the top seed from the Great Basin.
No. 3-seeded Jerome won 6-0 and 5-2 over Minico and No. 2-seeded Twin Falls (8-7-2) in its first two tournament games. Twin Falls stayed alive Monday with a 4-1 home win over No. 5 Burley (4-13-1). Canyon Ridge hosted Twin Falls in another loser-out game Tuesday.
Saturday’s Wood River upset win over Canyon Ridge was reminiscent of last October, when No. 1-seeded Wood River was upset 2-1 by No. 4 Minico of Rupert in the same, dangerous second-round game at SunWay Soccer Complex.
In both 2011 and 2010, top-seeded Jerome was upset in the GBC championship games, losing to Burley 1-0 in 2011 and to Wood River 2-1 in 2010. Only Jerome (2012, 2007-09), Burley (2011, 2004-06) and Wood River (2010) have won GBC tournament titles since the league began nine years ago.
On Thursday, Wood River opened its state quest with a 3-0 home win over Burley. It was Wood River’s sixth straight shutout win over Burley over two seasons by an 18-0 margin. The Wolverines out-shot Burley by a 13-2 margin.
Brazilian exchange student Arthur Brugger scored twice for Wood River—the first in the 17th minute after passes from senior Andrew Graves and senior Stephen Pfeiffer, and the second goal in the 54th minute on a pretty pass from Dylan Black finishing an attack from midfield by senior Keegan Heneghan.
One of Wood River’s 11 seniors, Black teed up a shot from just outside the box and made the score 2-0 in the 44th minute.
The officials called a close game, calling 17 fouls against Wood River and 21 against Burley. In addition, three yellow cards and one red card were issued to Wolverine players, and three yellow cards against Burley.
“You have to be careful in a game like that,” said Monjaras, referring to the frequent fouls but also to the no-warning red card drawn by Andrew Graves at 15 minutes that caused Wood River to play a man down for the remaining 65 minutes.
“All the players were antsy on the field for the first 10 minutes after the red card. We had to control the ball more on the floor and pass it twice as many times. We settled down after the half and didn’t have a lot of chances, but finished our shots.”
Wood River came away from Thursday’s game knowing full well its next opponent was top-seeded Canyon Ridge.
Monjaras said afterward, “Canyon Ridge doesn’t want to face us. It is our big challenge, but we’ll be a whole different team (compared to Wood River’s 2-0 loss at Canyon Ridge Sept. 30). We’ll be more composed, have more energy and determination.”
‘Hawks sting Hailey girls 2-0
Canyon Ridge, in its fifth season playing interscholastic athletics, did have something to celebrate Saturday—a 2-0 tournament victory over the Wood River girls in another second-round game at SunWay.
The No.3-seeded Riverhawks (11-6-0) got second-half goals from senior Ellie Packham in the 45th minute (penalty kick) and freshman Clarissa Henderson in the 50th minute to upset the No. 2 Wolverines (9-5-1).
Wood River out-shot Canyon Ridge 20-19 but just couldn’t finish in absorbing its third shutout loss of the season.
It was the first-ever Canyon Ridge girls’ soccer victory over Wood River. Wolverine teams had been 11-0-0 against Canyon Ridge by a combined 70-3 margin since the Riverhawks entered the league in 2009. That included 5-0 and 5-3 Wood River soccer wins during the regular season.
Wood River tried to stay alive in the chase for one of two GBC berths to state soccer with a loser-out home game Tuesday, Oct. 15 at 4:30 p.m. at Hailey’s South Valley Sports Complex. The Wolverines played Jerome (5-11-2), a 3-1 home winner over No. 4 Burley (5-13-0) Monday.
If Wood River won Tuesday, coach Jenni Conrad’s squad advanced to a Thursday game in Twin Falls against the loser of Tuesday’s GBC title between No. 1-seeded Twin Falls (11-4-1) and Canyon Ridge. The Thursday game will determine the second GBC representative to next week’s State 4A tournament.
Twin Falls kept its bid alive for a third straight GBC tournament title 4-0 over Jerome Saturday at SunWay Soccer.