TWIN FALLS — Katie Kauffman has coached at Twin Falls High School since 2003, and she doesn’t remember any Bruins girls soccer team finishing undefeated in conference play.
She’ll remember this one.
Top-seeded Twin Falls beat No. 2 Wood River 3-0 on Wednesday at the Sunway Soccer Complex. The victory gave the Bruins (14-2) their third straight Great Basin Conference title, and it left them with a perfect 12-0 record against conference opponents this season.
“It’s a little nerve-wracking coming into a game like that when you have no losses in conference play. Coming into the tournament, it certainly puts more of a target on your back,” Kauffman said. “To come out and end it the way we did today feels good.”
The joy of the district title and the 12-0 record was marred by an injury in the first half Wednesday.
In the 18th minute, Bruins sophomore Madison Bailey chased after a ball on the right side of the field. A Wood River player took possession, forcing Bailey to quickly change directions. Instead, she fell to the grass.
A tearful Bailey had to be carried off the field, and she didn’t return to the game. She suffered a right knee injury, according to Kauffman, but she was able to put weight on it by the end of the game.
Senior Phoebe Valdez replaced Bailey, who is one of the Bruins’ top scorers.
“I’m hoping that it’s something where we can get her nursed back and ready to go for the state tournament,” Kauffman said.
Twin Falls had excellent looks before and after Bailey got hurt, but the first half ended 0-0.
“I said, ‘We’re in the running. It could be anyone’s result,’” Wood River coach Doug Stouffer said. “I tried to encourage us to win districts.”
The Bruins had trouble with the Wolverines in the regular season (wins of 4-1 and 2-1), so they entered the second half expecting a test.
“I was nervous,” Kauffman said. “I knew they were gonna come at us hard in the second half.”
The Bruins broke through just a minute into the second half. After a bunch of point-blank chances in the first 40 minutes, they opened the scoring on a long free kick. Senior Lexi Rierson bended the set shot toward the right corner and over the fingertips of Wolverines goalkeeper Scout Hutchinson.
Kauffman remained anxious for the next 20 minutes. In the 63rd minute, she took a sigh of relief. Sophomore Brinlee Stotts, who started the second half due to Bailey’s injury, found the net from the right side of the goalie box (Madison Hicks assist).
Twin Falls’ defense made the final 17 minutes uneventful. Wood River had few shots, and basically zero good looks, the rest of the way.
“To be able to get that shutout, it gives us a lot of confidence going into state,” Twin Falls senior defender Ellie Jackson said.
Senior Madison Glascock put the finishing touches on the win with a goal in the 80th minute (Hicks assist).
“You could tell they were frustrated in the first half when we had connected and made things happen,” Kauffman said. “They came out composed in the second half and made it happen.”
Jackson was on varsity the last time her team didn’t win the district title. The Bruins lost to Wood River in the 2014 title game. Four years later, she and her five senior teammates are three-time district champions.
Twin Falls’ undefeated record against conference foes is not set in stone just yet. Wood River (11-6-1) hosts Canyon Ridge on Saturday in a loser-out, winner-to-state game. The winner has a chance to meet the Bruins one more time next week.
Twin Falls will face Mountain View (10-4-4) in the first round of the 4A state tournament, which begins next Thursday at Brothers Park in Caldwell.