Brandon Loayza

Wood River senior defender/midfielder Brandon Loayza (right) delivers a centering pass through the defense of Mountain Home’s Axel Arciniega (left) and Christian Martinez (center) during Wednesday’s 4-1 Wolverine tournament victory in Hailey.

     In two inches of Pocatello snow, the Wood River girls buckled down with Mountain Tough attitudes and rallied for a 4-2 win. On an icy but sunny day in Hailey, the Wood River boys breezed to a 4-1 victory.

     The Wood River High School prep soccer teams moved into the semi-finals of their 4A Great Basin Conference tournaments with Wednesday’s victories and will try to nail down State 4A tournament berths Saturday.

     It was quite a weather-challenged day on the pitch.

     Wood River senior and top scorer Kate Stone (11 goals) scored twice as the No. 5-seeded Wolverines stormed back from a 1-0 deficit in the snowstorm and took their first win in nine years over the No. 4 Century Diamondbacks 4-2.

     Zoe Bacca and senior co-captain Grace Parke added goals as the Wolverines (8-5-4), 6-1-3 in their last 10 games) snapped a five-game winless streak to Century (7-5-3), last year’s GBC runner-up.

     First-year Wood River coach Tanner Riley described the victory as awesome and added that the slippery conditions during the first-half whiteout were almost comical.

     She said, “I must say, I’ve never laughed so hard so many times coaching a soccer game. The girls took a lot of spills. There was a lot of laughter on the field—almost like trying to play on an ice rink.”

     The teams tied 1-1 in Pocatello in their only previous meeting, but more was at stake Wednesday. Riley said, “It almost felt like we had the home field advantage. It was a game we will never forget.”

     Century’s Emma Edgley gave the D’Backs a 1-0 lead in the early minutes. It wasn’t until late in the first half that Wood River responded.

     Riley said, “Coach Aimee Evans and I were unsure if we were going to forget about the snow and get back in the game. But with about five minutes left in the first half our girls began to prove that it was their game, two inches of snow and a blizzard or not.

     “We were connecting passes and breaking through their defense. Kate scored with 1:40 left in the half, and she assisted on Zoe Bacca’s goal with two seconds left in the half.

     “Eighteen minutes into the second half (freshman) Josie Gilman went down in the box, and Stone scored the rebound off of her own penalty kick making it 3-1. Century’s Sari Shutes made it 3-2 with 15 minutes remaining. Then, off of an assist from Bacca, Grace Parke finalized our 4-2 victory with 5:12 remaining.”

     Wood River advanced into Saturday’s 12:45 p.m. semi-final road challenge against reigning GBC champ Twin Falls, last year’s State 4A third-place squad that is 30-0 in league games over two years and is outscoring opponents 120-14 this season.

     Twin Falls girls (16-0-1, 13-0-0 GBC) won 10-0 at home over No. 8 Mountain Home (3-11-0) at SunWay Soccer Complex Wednesday. The loser of Twin Falls-Wood River will host a knockout game on Monday.

     In other tournament games, No. 3 Preston (10-4-2) blanked No. 6 Jerome (6-8-1) by a 2-0 score, and No. 2 Pocatello (11-1-3) shutout No. 7 Canyon Ridge (5-9-2) 1-0 in the rare October Idaho snowstorm.

     Riley said about the rematch from previous 5-2 and 7-0 losses to Twin Falls, “We are extremely fired up to play Twin Falls on Saturday. Our girls are healthy and proving determined to make it to the state tournament this year.”


Boys advance 4-1 in a breeze

     Wood River boys’ coach Luis Monjaras had lamented his team’s slow starts during the regular season, but that certainly wasn’t the case Wednesday during the GBC game against Mountain Home.

     Senior co-captain Edgar Salamanca took a long, wind-aided pass from senior Alonzo Estrada and buried the first goal in the fourth minute. Sophomore midfielder Heron Barriga buried a low volley off a Salamanca cross in the 11th.

     Wood River’s 2-0 halftime lead expanded to  3-0 in the 51st minute when junior Jaime Avila scored in the box after an Estrada corner kick, and top scorer Rafael Muñiz (14 goals) finalized the 4-1 triumph in the 78th minute, off another Salamanca feed.

     Monjaras said his players understood “a whole different game started today,” in the first tournament competition for No. 2-seeded Wood River. “Our opponents want it, and we want it. The boys knew they couldn’t make many errors and still win,” he said.

     On a frigid day with a north wind, Wood River (11-3-3) dominated, outshooting No. 7 Mountain Home (5-8-3) by 18-7, along with 9-0 in corner kicks.

     The defense of Estrada, Avila, Brandon Loayza and Armando Hurtado was strong, allowing only a Jake Herrboldt goal in the 55th.

     First-half goalkeeper Atzel Jimenez (1 save) and second-half keeper Will Penrose (5 saves) weren’t too busy, in contrast to Tiger senior keeper Danny Kissik (10 saves).

     With Wednesday’s victory, Wood River has a chance to earn a state tournament berth on Saturday, Oct. 12 when it hosts No. 3-seeded Jerome in the 10 a.m. semi-final clash at South Valley Sports Complex soccer field in Hailey.

     Jerome (12-3-1) blanked No. 6-seeded Twin Falls by a 2-0 score in Wednesday’s strong winds. No. 5 Canyon Ridge upset No. 4 Preston (8-4-3) by a 3-2 score in southeast Idaho.

     Canyon Ridge plays at No. 1 Century (11-2-2) Saturday in the other Great Basin semi—a rematch of last year’s final won by the Diamondbacks.

     Before learning about Jerome’s win, Monjaras was eager to play the Tigers again. “Hopefully it’s Jerome,” said Monjaras about his team’s coming foe, mindful of the 5-0 home loss to Jerome Sept. 7 and the 3-1 setback at Jerome.

     Three State 4A tournament berths are up for grabs for both the GBC boys and girls. The loser of Wood River-Jerome will host a boys’ knockout game on Monday, probably against Preston.

     If both Wood River teams host Monday games, times will be 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

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