WEBSTER CITY - Nobody ever said reaching a state tournament was easy.
With 12 consecutive wins pushing it forward, the Webster City boys' soccer team will face its most formidable opposition in its pursuit of a state berth this evening against third-ranked Hudson in a Class 2A Substate 2 semifinal battle at 5 p.m. in Hudson. The winner will advance to Saturday's substate final, also in Hudson at noon, against either Iowa Falls-Alden or Independence.
But first things first.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
WCHS senior forward Jonny Davis (4) gets tripped up by Clear Lake’s Devin Thomas during a Class 2A Substate 2 quarterfinal match won by the Lynx, 6-0, on Monday. Davis has 14 goals this season.
The Pirates (18-1-1) were the last team to beat Webster City (16-2-1), 2-0, back on April 14 on the same field where they'll butt heads again tonight. The state's top scoring team with 94 goals on the season, Hudson possesses arguably the most dynamic scorer from border to border in senior Hunter Zempel, who has booted in a state-best 44 goals this season. Zempel also has 21 assists, some of them going to sophomore teammate Cameron Wright, who is 12th in 2A with 18 goals.
Hudson's only loss this season was to No. 5-ranked Spencer earlier this month, 1-0. The Pirates also played to a 1-1 tie against No. 12 Benton Community, a team WCHS beat last month, 1-0.
"They're very good," WCHS head coach Craig Signorin said of Hudson. "Our defense has to play spot on. No mistakes."
In recent weeks, the Lynx back line has played nearly mistake free. During the team's month-long spurt, the group of Nick Olmstead, Brody Foster, Aaron Hoffman and Kirk Greenley, with goalkeeper Austin Koons as the last line of defense, have surrendered just four goals and racked up eight shutouts. The last team to score on WCHS was Gilbert early in the second half back on May 11, and since that time the Lynx have gone nearly 270 minutes without watching the other team celebrate.
"If our defense takes care of business, which I know they can, and our midfield and forwards are doing what they're supposed to be doing, we have a very good chance (of beating Hudson)," Signorin said.
The Lynx offense has been just as good, if not better, in recent weeks. Led by senior all-state candidate Caleb Crouthamel - the eighth-leading scorer in 2A with 21 goals - the purple and gold have rolled up 54 goals in its last 12 matches. Fellow forward Jonny Davis, also a senior, has 14 goals.
"We've been scoring goals and at the start of the season that was a problem for us because the guys would get frustrated," Signorin said. "But after that (Hudson) tournament, I set the goal for 11 (regular season) wins and we got 11 wins, and our goals have been sparking us."
Crouthamel rifled in four goals on Monday in a 6-0 rout of Clear Lake in the substate quarterfinal round. Midfielder Christian Lemus also notched his 10th goal, and Davis scored as well.