As the defending State 4A tournament champions, the Wood River High School boys’ varsity soccer team didn’t particularly enjoy its two-and-out exit at the 2018 state tournament in northern Idaho.
Yet Wood River (15-3-2, outscoring opponents 84-15) played well for most of the season led by conference “Player of the Year” and All-State Emerson Flores, All-State Lucas Beste and All-GBC first teamers Mario Macias and Josset Guzmán.
All four have graduated, and Wood River is headed into its 2019 campaign with a turnout of 39 players including eight seniors and 12 juniors for 11th-year coach Luis Monjaras, who will coach his 200th game in September.
Monjaras said, “Like all years we have high expectations where we want all players to exceed their own expectations on the field offensively and defensively.
“We have lots of new faces who we believe will make a big impact. If we are going to be successful we must stay healthy, consistent and be ready to compete against all opponents. They all want and are ready for the challenge.”
Wood River visits Preston on Saturday, Aug. 24 for its season debut and goes to Canyon Ridge in Twin Falls on Monday, Aug. 26 to play last fall’s “Great Basin 10” runner-up team. First home Wolverine games are Wednesday, Sept. 4 with Mountain Home.
Last fall, Canyon Ridge ended Wood River’s 27-game unbeaten streak with a 2-1 “Great Basin 10” tournament win that gave the regular-season league champion Wolverines their only home loss in Hailey.
The Wolverines went on to qualify for the state tournament as the third-place GBC team with 1-0 and 2-0 home wins over Jerome and Twin Falls. Century of Pocatello won the conference tournament 0-0 (5-4 kicks) over Canyon Ridge, in Pocatello.
At the State 3A tournament in northern Idaho, Wood River dropped its opener 3-0 to eventual state champion Caldwell (20-0-2), and then went home early with a 2-1 double overtime loss to consolation champion Century of Pocatello.
This season, Wood River will have to make up for a lot of lost offense—with top scorer Guzmán (12 goals, 19 career), Kevin Montes (12 goals), Lucas Beste (9 goals, 23 career), Flores (7 goals) and Jovany Armenta (5) accounting for 54% of the Hailey scoring.
Yet there is plenty of talent.
Monjaras said, “We have a few seniors on varsity who were part of the state championship team who now bring lots of experience to the team. The rest of the players have decent experience as well.
“We are implementing a new tactical playing system in which the players are learning fast and applying it well. We hope this system just gets better as the season progresses.
“All the boys want to continue the family structure that has been applied by former Wood River teams.”
The coach added about the varsity leaders, “Edgar Salamanca, Rafael Muñiz and Isaac Esparza are players to watch on the offensive part.
“In the midfield we have (sophomore) Heron Barriga. We have confidence Heron can be that go-to player in the middle who can distribute.
“Defensively we have solid players to lead—Alonzo Estrada, Jimmy Avila, Aidan Burchmore and Fernando Reyes. Back in goal we have two outstanding players who will be sharing time—Will Penrose and Atzel Jimenez.”
He said, “We had a decent turnout for tryouts. Some players are now battling injuries. We hope those players return as soon as possible.”
This year’s rosters follow. Abbreviations are forward (F), midfielder (MF), defense (D) and goalkeeper (GK):
Head coach—Luis Monjaras (11th year, 120-52-19, seven state tournament appearances, 3rd State 4A 2012, 2nd State 4A 2013, 1st State 4A 2017).
Assistant coaches—Eric Anderson and Juan Salamanca.
Volunteer coaches—Luis Valladares and Jon Piggins.
Seniors (8)—Alonzo Estrada (MF/D), Rafael Muñiz (F/MF), William Penrose (GK), Aidan Burchmore (D), Brandon Loayza (MF/D), Edgar Salamanca (MF/F), Cole Reeves (F), Daniel DJ Gralenski (F).
Juniors (12)—Isaac Esparza (MF/F), Atzel Jimenez (GK), Roberto Magaña (D), Jaime Avila (D), Luis Cordoba (D), Ben Goitiandia (D/MF), Bryan Flores (F), Jacob Ramirez (F/MF), Daniel Reyes (D), Joe Goitiandia (D), Armando Hurtado (D), Bryan Ramirez (MF).
Sophomores (3)—Heron Barriga (MF), Fernando Reyes (D), Ramiro Hurtado (D/MF).
Equipment manager—Dale Martin.
BOYS’ JUNIOR VARSITY
Seniors (1)—Daniel Gonzalez.
Juniors (8)—Jefferson Hidalgo, Roberto Magaña, Joe Goitiandia, Armando Hurtado, Bryan Ramirez, Jacob Ramirez, Julio Garcia, Fisher Gardner.
Sophomores (4)—Froilan Enriquez, Ken Blas, Ramiro Hurtado, Luis Armenta.
Freshmen (8)—Bryan Marroquin, Juan Ortiz, Cole Curci, Finn Naghsh, Franz Soto, Erik Ortiz, Omar Perez, Leonardo Garcia.