JEROME – For the fifth time in the past 12 months, Jerome and Twin Falls boys soccer played each other. Those five matches featured two wins by Jerome, two wins by Twin Falls, and now, one draw.
An intense and, at times, chippy game resulted in a 2-2 stalemate in Jerome on Wednesday.
“We’re not 100 percent game-fit. I believe the only way to truly get game-fit is by playing in games,” said Jerome head coach Jacob Wood. “With this being the first game, we’ve been limited. We still were getting heavy legs at the end, but everyone is going through the same struggle.”
Sophomore Baldomero Sandoval of Jerome and junior Jake Hillman of Twin Falls each scored a goal in the first half, sending players to the halftime huddle tied at one apiece. Hillman eventually left the game with a hamstring injury, though Stagge said he was unsure of its severity after the game.
In the second half, Twin Falls junior Daniel Salas found the back of the net off of a throw-in. The Bruins controlled possession for about the first 30 minutes of the second half, and looked to be wearing down the Tigers.
“I wish we could finish,” said Twin Falls head coach JJ Stagge. “We had chances, but we couldn’t put it in the back of the net. But the ball control with these guys is great. We work on that a lot.”
In the 85th minute, Jerome sophomore Luis Martinez banged in the equalizer on a ball that had bounced around the box.
“We’ll take it,” said Wood. “First game of the season, we come out with a tie against a very quality opponent in Twin. We know each other very well. We build on this from here. We made some obvious mistakes, but we’ll build.”
Jerome and Twin Falls lost big, talented senior classes from last year, so Wednesday was a peek into each team’s youth movement. Both of Jerome’s goals were scored by sophomores, and the Bruins relied heavily on the play of freshman Caden Zierenberg and sophomores Sergio Varela and Guillermo Fregoso.
“We have a young squad, but all the way around, they’re not intimidated by this at all. You can’t tell we have a young team out there,” said Stagge.
Twin Falls (0-0-2) next hosts Preston on Saturday morning. Jerome (0-0-1) travels to Oregon to play a pair of games against Ontario and La Grande this weekend.
For a photo gallery from Jerome v. Twin Falls soccer, visit magicvalley.com.