TWIN FALLS — Coach Angel Anguiano expected to beat Canyon Ridge on the third try — ‘third time’s a charm’, and what not.
Instead, the Riverhawks improved to 3-0 this season against Anguiano’s Burley boys soccer team with a Great Basin Conference tournament semifinal win last Wednesday, Oct. 4.
The Bobcats and Riverhawks met again on Saturday in a game that determined the GBC’s second seed at the 4A state tournament. Burley didn’t need a cliche good luck charm or even some of its key players to win this time. It needed 80 excellent minutes.
The Bobcats held off the Riverhawks on a chilly Saturday morning/afternoon at Canyon Ridge High School. The win advanced Burley (11-7-1) to its first state tournament since 2011, and it ended Canyon Ridge’s season.
“I said, ‘There’s no way they can beat us three times,’ and they did. Then I said, ‘There’s no way they can beat us four times,’” Anguiano said. “Here we are.”
The supposedly lucky nature of the number 3 wasn’t the only reason for Anguiano’s confidence on Oct. 4. The Bobcats had competed with Canyon Ridge in both regular season games, but they lost 2-1 both times.
The district semifinal match was even closer — 2-2 at the end of regulation and through two overtimes — but the Riverhawks won in the seventh round of penalty kicks.
A Burley win over Twin Falls and a Canyon Ridge district title loss to Wood River set up Saturday’s do-or-die showdown. But Burley’s chances for revenge had dipped.
Anguiano’s younger brother, Edgar, was arguably Burley’s best player, and he suffered a season-ending knee injury three weeks ago. Fellow seniors Marco Magallon and Elias Magana also missed Saturday’s game because of red cards they drew Wednesday against Twin Falls.
In response, Anguiano called up three JV players: Alexis Anguiano (Angel’s brother), Alex Gil and Hector Segoviano.
The first half of Saturday’s game was a defensive showcase, with few good looks for either team. Burley senior Jesse Cardenas quickly changed that narrative a few minutes into the second half.
Gio Ruiz launched a perfect through ball down the middle of the pitch, Cardenas outran the Riverhawk defenders and he chipped the ball over Canyon Ridge keeper Jair Garibay. It took a hop and nestled into the left side of the net.
Fifteen minutes later, Cardenas lined up a free kick from about 20 yards away, and he rifled it into the top left corner of the goal.
Burley had its largest lead over Canyon Ridge of the season.
“I said, ‘There’s still too much time,’” Cardenas said.
Around the 65th minute, Canyon Ridge senior Sagar Bhattarai found junior Rigo Garcia for a great look in front of the net. Garcia pulled it left of the right bar.
Five minutes after that, Burley was called for a hand ball, and Riverhawks junior Victor Gurung lined up for a penalty kick. Bobcats junior goalkeeper Corbyn Hawkes chose to dive left, and that’s where Gurung kicked it.
After Hawkes made the diving save, the the ball rolled a few feet in front of him, and Canyon Ridge junior Leo Triana was right there for the rebound. But Hawkes sprung to his feet, blocked the shot and tipped it to himself. He pumped his fist as he prepared to kick the ball away.
“Not our minute,” Canyon Ridge coach Corey Farnsworth said.
Triana got a morsel of revenge a few minutes later, when he drilled a penalty kick, but the Riverhawks ran out of time.
When the final whistle blew, Burley’s players and fans sprinted toward each other near mid-field to form a green mass of hugs and smiles. A bench player poured a bucket of ice water on the crowd, and Angel Anguiano got drenched a couple minutes later.
“It kinda sucks that there’s gotta be a loser, just because this conference is so tough,” Anguiano said. “But hey, we beat them when it mattered.”
Canyon Ridge (11-5-2) played better against Burley this season than any other GBC team, including district champion Wood River, which went 1-1 against the Bobcats. But schedule sequencing has no mercy.
“It’s the nature of the game,” Farnsworth said. “A state play-in game, a championship game, anything can happen.”
Anguiano was a junior at Burley the last time the boys soccer team went to state. The Bobcats will face Sandpoint (12-1-2) in the first round of the 4A state tourney at 2 p.m. Thursday at Brothers Park in Caldwell.
“I’m expecting to go, get in a hotel room and play FIFA with my family,” Hawkes said, “then go and play our hardest the next day.”